There is no risk of a Central Florida snowfall, but extended cold fronts are giving a unique validation to the name “Winter Park.” While many residents are prepared to deal with the occasional cold snap, it pays to keep an eye on items outside your home: namely your plants.
Though the inconvenience is occasional, even an hour of freezing temperatures is harmful. Following a few tips can offer protection from the next big chill – which is forecast for this weekend.
Certain plants are more sensitive than others. According to Mary Ann Shofstall, landscape designer with Towns’ Winter Park Garden Center, many common landscape plans will weather the current temperature drops. “Most of what you’ll see is tip damage, it’ll look like it’s burned or browning, but you can trim it off and the plant will grow out of that,” she said. However, more sensitive plants like orchids, tropical plants and some annuals could be damaged or killed by a freeze.
Shofstall offered three tips that can protect your plants and preserve your green thumb:
- Watering: Make sure you water before a freeze. When plants are drought-stressed, they are more likely to be damaged by the cold, so run your irrigation system or hand water the day before a freeze because plants that are less stressed will be less damaged.
- Covering: If you can’t bring them inside, put your plants on a porch or anywhere the frost can’t settle on the foliage and cause damage. You can also buy a frost cloth or use any breathable cloth to cover the plants. Don’t use plastic.
- Lighting: Even though the holidays are over, you may want to unpack a few sets of those small, outdoor string lights. Mesh lights and Christmas lights strung through branches can provide enough heat to prevent frost from forming.
While Central Floridians remain the undisputed winter-time bragging rights champions of the U.S., a little prevention can go a long way when those short stints of cold weather threaten your landscaping.