January Tips & Tricks for South Florida Landscapes

The cold weather is here, and if you haven’t already, it’s time to start thinking about how you’ll protect your plants this winter. Be ready to move tender potted plants to warmer sheltered areas if a freeze or frost is predicted. Also, check your inventory of plant covers and frost blankets so that you’ll be prepared when the time comes.

Preparing the  Landscape for Cold Weather

A cold-damaged plant                  While it’s nothing compared to what our neighbors up north  experience, Florida does get cold weather in the winter, and even freezes in some areas. Proper planning and care can make the difference between the life  and death of landscape plants.

Before a Freeze

Be ready to move tender potted plants to warmer,  sheltered areas if a freeze or frost is predicted in your area. Check your inventory of plant covers and frost blankets so  that you’ll be prepared when the time comes. Proper care throughout the year  will give your plants an edge in cold weather. Plants tolerate cold  temperatures better and recover from injury faster when they’re healthy.

Remember, don’t fertilize cold-sensitive plants in the late  fall or winter. Fertilizer application will encourage new growth, which is  especially susceptible to cold injury. Newly pruned plants are more susceptible  to cold damage as well, so postpone pruning until spring. In North Florida,  choose cold-hardy varieties or keep sensitive plants in containers that can be  moved to a protected area.

Protecting Your  Plants from the Cold

Winter temperatures in Florida are unpredictable; keep an  eye on the weather so you can protect your plants. During a hard freeze, you can  protect plants by covering them, but remember to drape the covers so that they completely touch the soil, so that ground heat can be trapped beneath. Consider adding an electric light bulb beneath the cover for  additional heat. If your cold-sensitive plant is too large to cover completely,  wrap the trunk with several layers of cloth or newspaper. Remove covers once  the temperature rises above freezing.

Gardeners use many methods to protect plants from the cold,  but some aren’t practical and could even be hazardous. You’ve probably heard about using overhead irrigation during  a freeze. Running irrigation like this works on farms where the irrigation systems are  designed for this purpose. The water has to run continuously from before the  freeze to several hours after temperatures rise for this method to protect   plants. With home irrigation systems, you are simply wasting water. Additionally,  the amount of water that home irrigation puts out can turn into the heavy ice, which can damage plants.

If—despite your efforts—your plants are damaged by cold,  don’t be too hasty to prune away the damage; just wait for spring. Cold-injured  plants will sprout below the damage so you can accurately assess exactly where  to prune.

If you need help regarding your landscaping, we at Garden Services are fully licensed & insured to handle all your irrigation, landscaping, lawn maintenance and tree service needs whether it’s a residential, commercial landscaping or homeowner association property. If you ever have any comments or questions, please don’t hesitate to call or email me and I’ll be happy to answer any questions that you might have. Special thanks to UF/IFAS extension for some helpful information provided in this post. Until next month Happy Gardening!