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New Hanover County Arboretum is a place known for beautiful plants and flowers. Before our first hard freeze, now its time to prep your tender vegetation. (Photo: Justin McKee/WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The surest signs of fall are the changing of the colors on the trees and the cooling temperatures.

As the air turns colder, frost becomes possible in the early mornings.

Some of our inland locations have already seen their first freeze. In the Port City, it usually happens in mid to late November.

“We always get some variability with that. Typically in the Wilmington area, we’re buffered by the ocean and so we don’t get quite the extremes that you do further inland. But there’s always years when it’s a little early, we might have a frost by Halloween and some years it might not even frost all the way until Christmas, so it just depends on the year,” said Al Hight with the New Hanover County Cooperative Extension.

For many annual flowers and plants, you don’t have to do anything when temperatures dip below freezing thanks to their natural life cycle. But some tropical plants and other varieties aren’t suited for the cold, so you should bring them in.

“If you’re talking about tropical stuff, you’re probably talking mid 40s. If you’re talking about things that are a little better adapted, then obviously anything above freezing at 32 is probably okay,” Hight said.

Hight says there are some preparations you can make for your fall garden.

“Maybe you started a fall garden late with lettuce, or maybe you started some kale, or you’ve got some young carrots and beets. If you get a really cold, windy time, it might be a good time to use something like a floating row cover or something to protect those young plants, but otherwise they’ll be fine.”

Long range temperatures models are hinting at a cold blast around Thanksgiving. Although it’s too early to say how cold. Experts say our next freeze or frost could significantly damage tender vegetation if not protected.

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