Excessive frost damage can be the end for many tropical plants. When it comes to plant life in Florida, it is rare that a drop in temperature happens abruptly, but when it does it is important to take the necessary precautions to prevent permanent damage should frost or a freeze occur.
When temperatures decrease gradually during the year, as they tend to do slowly through fall and into winter, plants can acclimate themselves to the changing weather. Preparing for pre and post freeze are important to keep your tropical plants healthy and thriving in the winter months.
Preparing for a freeze in Florida.
Knowing the climate well helps both gardeners and landscapers successfully tend to plants in a tropical climate like Florida that risks dips in temperature. Working with professional landscapers, like Three Seasons, will leave the care to the pros. However, the following are steps you can take to assure the best survival of your tropical plants during a freeze.
- Plant site selection. Microclimates are important to consider when installing plants or landscaping. Microclimates, areas that are cooler or warmer, wetter or drier, than other areas, will make a big difference during a freeze. Avoid threat to sensitive plants by keeping them out of low areas where cold can settle. Soil should have good drainage to avoid roots going weak or cold injury.
- Proper nutrition. Healthy plants that are well nourished will survive cold much better and recover rapidly from cold injury faster.
- Shading. Trees can reduce freeze from plants that are shade tolerant. Foliage from the tree canopy creates a heat system by trapping the heat rising from the ground below the canopy keeping all low lying plants warmer.
- Watering before a freeze. Wet soil absorbs heat during the day which helps protect the plant at night .
Additionally, taking proper, routine care of tropical plants in Florida can lead to healthier plants that withstand the colder months. Inspect your plants regularly for pests and control as necessary because plants that become weakened by diseases or insects become more susceptible to the cold.
Recommendations on protecting your plants.
Move any plants in containers or planters into a protected area where heat can be supplied. For plants that cannot be moved or for containers needing to be left outside, protect with mulch. Laying fresh mulch in your landscaping beds will trap heat and result in a reduction of heat loss.
Invest in coverings for your plants to protect from frost and extreme cold. Although Florida rarely sees extreme cold, it does occur, and tropical plants must be well tended to during these times to survive. Coverings that work well and should be used for your plants include: cloth sheets, quilts, plastic, and commercial frost cloths. Remember to provide ventilation or remove during the daytime when the sun is out.
Follow the weather closely!
When dealing with the potential for freezes or extreme cold in Florida, watch your weather closely. The best hope for your plants to have minimal cold damage is through careful preparation and planning. Knowing when your cold front is coming will allow you to be proactive and take measures to preserve your landscaping and tropical plants properly.
Have you found othe measures to protect your tropical plants from the cold? If so, we would love to hear about it! Leave your comment below and tell us all about your methods.