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Why does deep snow layer not kill plants? A thick blanket of the white stuff cuts out light to the leaves, and they must therefore be in darkness under it. In a winter spell like this one they could be under snow for days, or a week? Is their ability to survive the light deprivation due to their dormancy and that the plants are not 'active'? I would have thought that the same amount of light deprivation during the growing season would make them turn pale and yellow in no time. What is this mystery? Can anyone shed light on?



Snowman_006

Answers

 

Snow being white, underneath a thick layer it reflects light to the plants, many which are hardy are protected from sub zero temperatures and the chill of the wind. Thawing out gives a plant plenty of water to replenish the lack of it when frozen. The thicker the layer also helps to protect from sun rays which burn our plants when it is only a frost.

6 Jan, 2010

 

" they could be under snow for days, or a week" - Johnathon, our garden has been under deep snow for two weeks now and the forcast is for the weather to continue for another couple of weeks (at least?). Once the milder weather comes it will take a week or two for all the snow to shift :-(((((
Agree with what Doctorbob says above. Hopefully the snow will provide some insulation and most will be OK.

6 Jan, 2010

 

there is no need, for me to add any thing, but I must, I agree conpleatly with doctor Bob, well put.

6 Jan, 2010

 

Hmm. I'm not sure I'm quite there on this. I have a rain cover over my back door which is made of thin transparent sheet. 4" of snow is sitting on it and I have been looking up at it from underneath today. The light reduction from that amount of snow is significant, but methinks would not be too much to deprive a plant to its detriment. But double the depth, or three times, or even more, then is very little light indeed. I reckon they will have to survive almost lightlessly for a while, yet seems they do.

6 Jan, 2010

 

I promise you Jonathan so long as it snowed before it froze (if indeed it has frozen) you will have no problems. We love visiting the Austrian alps as the snow goes back... tiny wee plants that have been covered in snow for months emerge ready to flower! Both the soldanella and the hepaticas are good at doing this as are some of the primulas.

6 Jan, 2010

 

"Come spring, tilt reverses,
Earth shifts and rises, upwards towards the sun
To be held and kissed,
Rises in glory to meet the beaming rays
Of golden furnace shone through haze;
Dehibernation, thaw." (Me).

6 Jan, 2010

 

it is some time ago now ,but during training in the army I spent a short time in a snow house in the kairgorms, proberly spelt wrong, that was dug deep into the snow, we did not need a light during the day and I am talking a lot more than four inches, and it was a lot wormer than out side, I also spent a night in a cave ,and belive me I have never been so cold,

6 Jan, 2010

 

Hi Cliffo Cairngorms - actually a type of smoky quartz... sorry I have miles of useless, or possibly useful, info in my head. And yes inside a snow hole it is much warmer than outside... serious winter climbers live in them for days so they can start climbing a first light before the ice starts to thaw.

Love the poem J.

6 Jan, 2010

 

Just a thought: I was awake at 3.00 am last night and looking out of the window. It was amazing to see the garden so full of light. Even thought the sky was overcast, it seemed almost like day time, because light was reflecting upwards into the air off the snow on the ground, and off the snow on the fences and trees.

6 Jan, 2010

 

Yup many years ago now in conditions like this Mr MB and I would wrap up very, very well and go walking at night to enjoy the different experience... magical. Now we slumber by the fire sipping out hot toddies! To be honest and truthful if we had both been well we'd have been out walking for miles every day.

6 Jan, 2010

 

can i also add something else to what has been said. as the temperature is very low the cellular activity of the cells is also very slow. its down to chemicals called enzymes that work slower in the cold. so less activity needs less energy so less photosynthesis. when warm the enzymes speed up reactions [hence the benefit of a greenhouse/coldframe]

the very slight temp rise from the plants makes a tiny pocket of air between the snow and the plant. this provides a good insulating layer.

hope this helps.

6 Jan, 2010

 

that sounds very romantic mg.
hubby and i sed to do something similar. the kiddies have put paid to that for the time being.

6 Jan, 2010

 

Just abandon them SBG... they'll never notice if you go off for a half hour walk. You could even tell them you were going for a wee walk!

6 Jan, 2010

 

Sbg has given exactly the answer I would give plain and simple as that, nothing more, nothing less.

6 Jan, 2010

 

Sorry Doctorbob1, the light is not reflected to the plant at all but away from it unless the underside of foliage above it gets reflected light from the upper surface of a leaf or other snow covered surface just below it. As said, at these low temperatures, the plants physiology is so slow that it goes into a kind or suspended animation until the weather warms again (obviously this is regarding evergreen plants).

6 Jan, 2010

 

i must say its rare for me to be plain and simple, thanks for the compliment fractal :o)
I can rabbit on for england :o)

6 Jan, 2010

 

MG, should you ever go for a walk above the skee slopes at avamore, spelling all to H agine'' and you visit a well known cave ,you will find my name in the visiters book for febury some time in the early fiftes, and you may finde a tin of my kippers in the spair food stor.I have never spent a night as cold as that ever, that was training for norway,

6 Jan, 2010

 

Ah Cliffo I doubt that either myself or Mr MB will get up to the Hanging stone again... I certainly wont with my heart problems. However we have walked and climbed most of the Cairngorms. In fact we celebrated our silver wedding anniversary in white out on McDuhi... Now it is the turn of our grand sons to walk and climb the hills in our stead.

6 Jan, 2010

 

When we have real snow like this I love the middle of the night when its light outside but soooo quiet not a sound, but plenty of wildlife prints to show they are about.

6 Jan, 2010

 

Agree Denise, oh and thinking about it Cliffo it is the Shelter Stone

7 Jan, 2010

 

MG I have only seen the place under snow . and I enjoyed it verry much, we had good instructers ,and although I had never skyed befor we did the most dificult slopes, and Drc my best time is dawrn, I have two boards on top of the snow were I put mashed potatoes with beef driping raisons and cut up apples, when I draw the curtins there is allways blackbirds a pair of thrushes to my delight and wagtails siting on the boards willing me to come and feed them, they get brakefast befor me,

7 Jan, 2010

 

Seaburngirl did a very good explaination :)

7 Jan, 2010

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