Local nurseries scramble to protect plants from late season ‘winter burn’

WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. – This weekend’s snow and ice was cause for concern for some business owners who deal in outdoor plants and shrubs.

When the cold temperatures hit Rolling Ridge Nursery, employees rolled out the covers for some of their plants.

“This greenhouse should be full of annuals now,” said Don Baumstark, Rolling Ridge Nursery.

Over the past five decades, Baumstark has seen some all types of meteorological ups and downs in Webster Groves. The longtime commercial nursery dates back to 1892 and has two grow houses for such occasions like late season cold.

Baumstark said he remembers a similar weather pattern that hit the area this time of year about 13 years ago.

“Things that were 30 years old were dead because it was such a hard transition,” he said.

Baumstark said before the wet March and Sunday’s snow and ice, the biggest concern had been dry conditions in the fall and early winter. The result – damage to trees and shrubs, called "winter burn" or "snow burn." He believes, in the long run, that most plants and shrubs should be okay.

“Fortunately, because March has been so up and down and wet, the ground is still fairly cool so everything is reasonably dormant,” he said.

Winter cloth allows light and air and keeps the temperature warmer for some plants. But herbs that would hang out outside, were instead in the greenhouse Monday afternoon.

“In this industry, you like to have a slow warm-up in February and working its way through March and April,” Baumstark said. “Hopefully last night and yesterday were the last of the cold weather.”