FloridaGardener's Blog
Jan 16

Written by: host
1/16/2010 3:20 PM

Most of Florida is now experiencing mild weather after two weeks of record breaking cold. You have probably had a chance to survey the damage that was dealt to your plants by the freezing weather and depending upon where those plants were located in your garden and their cold tolerance some probably held up better than others to the Arctic front.


Freeze Damage.Leaf Loss from freezing temperatures.

Take the FloridaGardener’s advice – DO NOT CLIP, PRUNE OR FERTILIZE any of your plants now, obvious damage or none. The reason for this is that the even though we are currently back into milder weather it is very likely that in the following months we could again experience hard frosts or freezing weather. Clipping, pruning or fertilizing your plants at this time could provoke them into a new flush of tender growth that will definitely be further damaged if another “Canadian Express” comes roaring south in the following weeks.


By late February or early March Florida plants will begin to spring-forth with new growth and you will be able to see for sure what plants have been killed by the cold and what damage should be removed from the survivors.


Let me make this perfectly clear, severe pruning of freeze damaged plants should be delayed until new growth appears and further threats of frosts and freezes have passed. However, dead, unsightly leaves may be removed as soon as they turn brown. If possible, wait until they fall from the plants by themselves.


Cold damage may appear as a lack of spring bud break on a portion or on all of the plant.  Some plants may show an overall weak appearance. The outer branch tips on some plants may be damaged, while older wood may be free of injury.


The “line” between dead and live wood will eventually be “marked” by the growth of a new bud. A small scrape of the bark with a sharp knife will show either a green or darkened growth layer. The cold damaged cambium layers under the bark will be black or brown in color; living plant tissue will be green. Prune damaged branches behind this point of discoloration.


In some cases, it will take some time for the buds to break after cold damage. Be patient before proceeding with freeze-kill pruning. In the meantime, continue to regularly irrigate your plants so that you do not accidentally compound the damage to them by causing them to dry out and die from lack of water.


Happy Gardening!


Re: What to do for Freeze Damaged Florida Plants

Timely help and just what we need to know. Thanks.

By bkacker on   2/10/2010 8:36 PM

Re: What to do for Freeze Damaged Florida Plants

my red sisters, in a north-west location with no wind barrier[which were covered during our freeze spell]
look as if they totally froze----all leaves are now brown.what can be done for them in january?8W

By laurel taylor on   1/20/2011 6:12 PM

Re: What to do for Freeze Damaged Florida Plants

when can I move my mexican petunias and Ti plants

By karen on   1/20/2011 6:12 PM

Re: What to do for Freeze Damaged Florida Plants

I have a lovely but severely damaged Queen Palm from December's cold weather. This is it's third year in the ground and is still green in the stalks at the trunk, similar to its behavior from last year's February cold snap. My questions are this: 1) what fertilization should I use and 2) when/how frequently should it be applied?

By Philip Rastocny on   2/20/2011 9:56 PM

Re: What to do for Freeze Damaged Florida Plants

I have about 27 Areca plants that are damaged from the frost. They are all brown and now what should I do?

By Theresa on   2/20/2011 9:56 PM

Re: What to do for Freeze Damaged Florida Plants

Do not trim anything yet. Let them look ugly until at least the end of March. By then you should know how much damage has been done and trim accordingly. Plus, if another freeze comes though before then, they will still have some protection.

By host on   2/12/2011 4:19 PM

Re: What to do for Freeze Damaged Florida Plants

Also, do not move anything or fertilize until all danger of frost is over and spring has really begun to kick-in at your neck of the woods in Florida.

By host on   2/12/2011 4:21 PM

Re: What to do for Freeze Damaged Florida Plants

This site is very helpful to me, since gardening in northern Florida is a new experience. Neighbors remind me to water shrubs and pansies, but do not fertilize yet.

By Mary Beth Sturgis on   2/20/2011 9:56 PM

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