(113) Quantifying Landscape Microclimates and Related Cold Injury

in HortScience
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  • 1 Texas A&M University-Commerce, Agricultural Sciences, Commerce, TX, 75482

It is generally accepted that plants closer to structures benefit from the warmth emitted via imperfect insulation and solar energy reemitted as long-wave, thermal radiation. However, while claims of protection are given, little quantifiable information exists on the extent or pattern of this protection. We studied existing plantings of Trachelospermum asiaticum, an evergreen groundcover that is frequently damaged in northeast Texas. The plantings studied were part of a landscape with at least five different identifiable microclimates: 1) near building (NB); 2) mid-bed (MB); 3) bed edge (BE); 4) beneath Quercus virginiana (LO); and 5) beneath Pyrus calleryana`Bradford' (BP). We placed HOBO temperature data loggers recording one temperature per minute in each location. Following our first damaging freeze, we waited 7 days before collecting leaf samples. Leaf samples were collected by using a 25-cm square, 2 cm deep on two sides. The square was placed on the groundcover so that the top of the groundcover was level with the top of the square. All leaves and stems that extruded through the top 2 cm of the square were excised. Four samples were taken from each location, and the number of damaged and nondamaged leaves were counted for each sample. Leaves that were at least 50% discolored were considered damaged. Leaf damage data were analyzed using SAS Proc ANOVA. Leaves in the BE and BP locations showed significantly fewer live leaves than any other locations. NB leaves were virtually undamaged. Average temperatures in the BE and BP locations were 4.5 to 5 °F colder than the “near building” locations, comparable to an a or b zone in the current USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map.

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