How to care for plants in unusually mild winter

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ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Experts say there is a way to protect your garden when winter finally decides to arrive.

“We normally don’t see this kind of warm weather. This is a very unusual year,” Osuna Nursery Supervisor Russell Mouser said. “The mild weather is having the effect that a lot of stuff is wanting to come out early. You’re seeing plants are are starting to pop out, buds and blooms. People have to refrain from trimming and pruning back too early–especially on your roses.”

It’s good news for the nursery off Osuna and Edith, which has been inundated with calls and foot traffic from people wondering if their plants will survive when a freeze finally does come to Albuquerque.

“We are very confused… What should we do about the grass situation and all of the plants that are starting to bloom in the back?” asked Debbie Perich of Albuquerque.

“I’m not sure what plants will come up. I haven’t had to water the way I’ve had to water this year,” added Pamela Mares of Albuquerque. “It’s so dry!”

She’s right. The National Weather Service reports Albuquerque has seen less than one-tenth of an inch of precipitation in the past four months.

Over the past six days, the NWS also said the temperature has been more than 10 degrees above the average. That can be confusing for your plants.

“Even though some of these plants are cold hearty, they’re not going to be used to the rapid drop in temperature we’re going to have,” Mouser said. “To prepare for the cold weather, I recommend that people have some cloth or sheets around to cover up the sensitive plants like the vegetables you may have put in or any bulbs that are coming up and to go ahead–monitor your watering, and if you haven’t already, bring in those sensitive plants and pots. Bring them into a garage or a warmer spot.”

He said you can save your yard despite this wacky weather, advising to not be afraid to plant flowers, fruits and veggies, but to just be prepared.

“The best preventative measures are: monitor your watering, cover with a cloth and don’t start pruning until it’s the right time,” he said.

He said it’s safe to trim fruit trees, grasses and perennials this time of year because they’re in a dormant season. People can also put bulbs in the ground, surrounded by mulch to keep the ground warm.

Numbers from the NWS show Albuquerque’s average daytime high this winter is 54.2 degrees. The last time the winter average was that high was in 1986.

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