My favorite plants in my flower bed is purple Wandering Jew. It’s a gorgeous purple vine. Great ground cover to discourage weeds and erosion.
The perennial is very temperature sensitive. The first night frost will kill it. It survives moderate winters. A few nights in the mid 20’s isn’t a problem. It comes back lusher than ever in the Spring. Central Arkansas has a lot of moderate winters.
Mine are 4 years old. I bought two flats of the plant from Lowes. It’s a lot of work planting them and watering during the summer.
Well my luck has run out. Starting Feb 13 the nights are forecast to drop to 12 degrees. My poor babies won’t have a chance of surviving.
I’m not sure if I’ll replant. Do I really want to replicate all that expense and work? We could have another frigid winter in early 2022.
Can you dig up a few hunks and pot them indoors? Then cover the rest and hope for the best.
I have a geranium that has been going for 3 years, but I forgot to bring it in before a recent freeze. I did bring it it, cut back the dead stuff, and there are currently 5 very healthy leaves reaching towards the window. So keep a happy thought and break out some covering.
I had a Chicago Hardy Fig* tree for about five years. I’d get a handful of figs from it every summer, neat! My neighbor next door had a landscaper, an older man from Greece. I think he treated it as a hobby job in his retirement. Anyway, motioned me over and excitedly asked if it was a really fig tree and how he hadn’t seen one in years and reminded him of his life back in Greece, cool!
I had planted it in a 5 gallon bucket with a bunch of holes drilled for drainage which I’d put in a hole in the ground about 6 inches deep. It really thrived and got bigger and bigger each year. I’d bring it into my basement when the cold weather came in as advised by the plant place I bought it from. It was hard since roots always grew from the holes and I had to dig them up and cut to move the thing. It exploded new shoots and leaves very early each spring and was a hassle to get out of the basement without some damage.
You know where this is going. I apparently left it out a little too late and it never came back. I’ll buy another if I see one for sale but haven’t encountered one in the last few years since.
I would get some light mulch, not wet but dry, something like sawdust or straw and mostly cover them up. You should be able to get straw at a local feed store. They are only going to need protection for a couple of weeks and covering them shouldn’t kill them. Maybe cover about 3/4 of the plant.
What I have read says to cover with a light woven cloth but that only protects for about 5 degrees above temp. I think straw would work if it isn’t wet, the plants should rebound and you can remove most of the straw in a few weeks.
Do you mean that the above-ground portion of the plant is routinely killed every winter, but it comes back up from the roots, which survive?
Then agreeing with covering the plants. Put a lot of straw over them if you can get it – shake it up as you apply it so that it becomes loose straw with a lot of air spaces. You can put quite a lot on, six inches or more, and you can leave it on all winter. Don’t pull it back until the ground’s well thawed in the spring – part of what you want to prevent is a lot of repeated freeze/thaw going on in unprotected ground; but do remove all or most of it by the time the plant’s trying to grow above ground. Next year, put the straw down sooner, when active growth has stopped but before the ground freezes up hard.
If you can’t get straw, try blankets; but you may need to keep adding and removing those, I don’t know whether it’s OK to leave them on all winter.
In most parts of the country tradescantia is a house plant. Insulate them and hope for the best, but before that just grab a handful. They root in a glass of water even. But damp potting soil would be better.
Thank you for the excellent suggestions. I covered the plants this afternoon. Hopefully that might save the living part underground.
The top part of the plant died after the first frost in late October. It’s always grown back every spring. We’re getting unusually cold winter weather for the next 10 days. I live right on the boundary between plant zone 7 and 8. Most winters it’s zone 8 conditions.
The tag that comes with the plants says they can survive brief periods just under freezing conditions. People living in very cold climates don’t even try planting them outdoors. Wandering Jew is a popular house plant. They thrive in hanging baskets.
I’ve talked with other family members that enjoy gardening. Wandering Jew is a Perennial but in my area it’s best thought of as a annual. It recovers after mild winters and most people here understand it requires replanting after a harsh winter.
This was my first experience with the plant and the last three winters were mild. A nasty and cold winter was always going to come.
I may seek out a more cold resistant perennial that heavy mulching can protect during the winter. I have three months to think about it.
Tradescantia “Purple Heart” (assuming that’s what is mentioned in the OP) is generally regarded as hardy to zone 7, where the average winter lowest temperature is in the range of 0-10F. So 12F, especially with a good cover of mulch should be survivable.
As for “Chicago Hardy” figs, they are regarded as reliably root hardy through at least zone 6 (0 to -10 average winter lowest temp), bearing figs on new growth even if existing trunk/branches are killed to the ground. Plants are likely to be less hardy if kept in ground with roots confined to a pot. And of course winter storage somewhere where it doesn’t get too far below freezing will adequately protect most figs from any damage.
I have a sizable “Chicago Hardy” in-ground here in Kentucky. Since this is its first winter in the ground (with plenty of mulch) we’ll see how it comes through the winter. Our expected 9F low in a few days may be less of a problem if the coating of ice on the branches from last night’s storm remains in place.
I’m getting over chuckling at calling a zone 7 plant a perennial - I garden in zone 3 (4 on a good day). Diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks.
In some ways, I imagine gardening in warmer climates is harder than gardening here, where it went down to -35 last night, but my plants are all fine. There is nothing in my yard that isn’t hardy AF.
If I’m going to plant anything that is even a little tender, it goes in near the house where it can take advantage of the house microclimate. I will also heap snow over new shoots in spring, when they might get a little overeager. People here also wrap things like cedars in burlap in winter (our chinook winds are very desiccating).
I hope you can save your plants. I love stories of plants that survive longer than expected and under harsh conditions and am looking forward to reading that yours survived the cold snap.
I hope you don’t mind my pointing out that “Wandering Jew” has gone out of favor owing to its antisemitic, uh, roots. You can read about them here. Tradescantia is too hard for me to remember, but I like one of the alternatives: Wandering Dude. The article lists other alternatives.
You probably know this, but I’ll nitpick for any who don’t: they’re perennials in the sense that they’ll live for multiple years if they get the right growing conditions; as opposed to annuals which will set seed in the same year in which they germinate and which will die after setting seed whatever the weather does.
Good seed catalogs will say things like “perennial to zone 7, grow as an annual further north”.
thorny – it used to be zone 4 here but now it’s 5, except once in a while it reverts – locust
I probably wouldn’t plant a flowerbed in zone 4. I’d settle for a few potted plants on the deck. They could be brought inside during the winter.
My parents moved from Massachusetts when I had just turned 9. My gardening views might be different if I had continued living in that climate.
I used to plant a large flowerbed with annuals every Spring. I quit a few years ago and out in several Holly bushes. I’m not getting any younger and annuals are a lot of work. I plant a few pots of Vinca on the deck.
If you do lose your Wandering Jew in this cold snap, let me know. I also live in central Arkansas and I have plenty of indoor Tradescantia that I can share - both the “Purple Heart” and the stripey one like “Zebrina”.
But even good seed catalogs with describe a plant as extremely hardy if it grows in zone 6 while its cousins can barely handle zone 7. Frustrating for those of us in zone 3-4 who get excited at the word “hardy”.