Spring freeze is like a bad party guest who arrives late, wrecks the place and then disappears without saying goodbye.

Unpredictable weather patterns may have a chilling effect on premature blooms and buds. Mild winter temperatures may have induced early blooming, but home gardeners can implement measures to protect flowering plants from an unwelcome late freeze.

Virginia Cooperative Extension agriculture agent Kirsten Ann Conrad advised gardeners to keep an eye on the forecast and, if frost is predicted, cover tender plants or budding flowers with a sheet, plastic tarp or blanket. Spring flowering bulbs are cold hardy, and most flowering ornamental trees won’t sustain extensive damage with temperatures above 26 degrees. But if the temperature drops below that, flowering tree blossoms could be destroyed. 

Hoop houses or high tunnels used by farmers protect crops from freeze and extend growing seasons.

“There’s nothing like standing in a 70-degree structure in February when it’s freezing outside,” said Carolyn Quinn, a produce farmer in Lancaster County. “The tunnels can get very, very warm.”