Cold can be hard on Florida plants
RODOLFO ROMANDecember and the first two months of the year are the peak of winter season in Florida.
Published: February 13, 2013
Published: February 13, 2013
The Sunshine State's weather is nothing compared to the northern region of the country, but there can be unusual days where it can be uncommonly cold for the subtropical weather state.
This could be damaging to tropical, subtropical and temperature trees, shrubs, vegetables and crops in general. Plants can possibly adapt to cold, but fruits and roots can't tolerate cold weather.
For the most part, during this time of year, daytime highs are in the mid-70s and lows are in the 50s in Central Florida, for example.
But that's why it is important to be prepared to prevent any damage to plants.
Horticulturist and owner of the Butterfly Ranch, Cindy David, said plants in South Florida, for example, can sustain a little cool weather.
"Our plants are geared for nothing like 40 degrees," she said in a phone interview. "We don't have a problem with a night with 47 degrees. There really won't be much damage. The only problem is within the spring mood. It will put a halt to it. But, really, it doesn't do too much damage to it."
The way to prevent any damage from cold temperatures is practicing proper precautions.
"When you get down to a chance of a freeze, it could be dangerous," she said. "I suggest to cover your plants if they are small enough to be covered, so you don't have browning or damage on them."
Potted plants or orchids should also be stored inside homes.
When a freeze is pending, David said to cover the plants and water it. But stay away from fertilizing.
"The first thing I do is wet the ground. To insulate the roots to keep them warm," she said. "Trees, shrubs and others should also be wet."
She said to protect the plant life.
"Anything under 40 degrees I get a bunch of old sheets and put them on top of my most tender plants," she said. "If you cover them you might not lose them. The problem we had was that it was sustained cold. One night of freeze followed by a warm-up is fine."
The best time to put the sheets on is in the evening.
The best time to remove them is as soon as the sun rises, so it can directly hit the plants.
After a freeze strikes, remove dead leaves once they turn brown. Some plants that are weak toward a cold snap include tomatoes, bedding flowers, ginger and heliconias.
Thankfully, the winter has been good to the state, so far. One of the coldest snaps was about three years ago, when in South Florida the temperature went down to the 30s.
However, there are some plants that can resist cold temperatures. Bougainvilleas do well, David said.
She added that it could get brown, but it will recuperate.
Remember that proper plant nutrition will help plants bounce back from an injury caused from a cold snap.