Freezing temperatures are possible overnight Friday into Saturday and Saturday into Sunday given the forecast conditions. Plan to protect newly planted annuals or herbs, and if possible any perennials that have begun to grow more than a few inches tall because of the unseasonably warm weather. If it is not possible to protect all your perennials, remember that freeze damage is not generally fatal to perennials, but may cause cosmetic damage. Pansies/Violas will be ok unprotected.
Trees and shrubs won’t be killed but may suffer cosmetic damage to flowers or new growth. Unprotected hydrangeas in particular may suffer damage to flower buds, causing poor or no flowering this year.
Protect plants in the ground by draping sheets or blankets over them. Sticks can be used to create a “tent” to avoid flattening delicate plants, and also to avoid contact with leaves which may result in freezing through the blanket. Add bricks on top of the sheets to hold down the sheet from the winds. Containers can be moved into a protected area or covered the same way as plants in the ground.
What if you can’t protect because plants are too big or there are too many? Spring freezes are more of a cosmetic problem that a danger to hardy plants (perennials, shrubs and trees). Plants often recover with minimal long-term effects. That doesn’t mean it’s not frustrating to lose your beautiful cherry or magnolia blossoms. That’s weather in North Carolina!