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      Protect your blooms from the cold

      Not long ago temperatures were in the 80's and Mid-Missourians were enjoying outdoor activities.

      Now, temperatures linger just above freezing and Saturday winter tightened its grip with a snow storm, even though technically it TMs spring.

      Plants arrived at Dix Nursery and Garden Center from Oklahoma.

      "We just received from Oklahoma and they are about two weeks ahead of us so naturally they are going to be leafed out and that's why we use frost blankets and burlap to protect the plants," store manager Kent Smith said.

      Gardeners said it's not the snow that's the problem, it's the cold temperatures.

      Smith said the snow actually acts as insulation and provides a blanket of protection for the leaves.

      He also said you should cover your plants when temperatures dip.

      "You can use an old sheet, something, anything but plastic, Smith said. You should use something that can breathe because plastic will transfer the coldness and the plants will burn from plastic."

      Bettie Benke uses sheets to protect her roses.

      "They TMre just really in full growth right now and the sheets will save them from the snow and the freezing temperatures at night, Benke said. If you do that, then they don TMt have to back up and start all over again.

      Benke said she will start planting again as soon as the cold lets up.

      "Pansies can take a lot of cold but I didn TMt want to see if they would freeze or die," Benke said.

      Smith said for flourishing plants, soil is key.

      He said you should use a composte and then use a root stimulator or fertilizer to help get the roots going.

      If you're in the mood for planting, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts do well in the cold.

      Smith said you can also plant evergreens, trees and shrubs without any problem, but said you should wait on planting annuals and less hearty perennials until the last frost which is expected to come in mid April.