Parts of Florida are susceptible to overnight freezes during the winter season, which can damage or kill warm-weather plants. Group hanging and potted plants together or bring them indoors. Cover in-ground plants with sheets or blankets and protect them with added mulch or insulation barriers.
Floridians love warm-weather plants, and for good reason. Tropical plants like ginger, succulents, bougainvillea, palms, bromeliads, and citrus thrive through most of Florida’s seasons.
In South Florida, it’s rare for freezing temperatures to strike, and homeowners have little to worry about when it comes to plant survival. However, this is not always the case in Central Florida, where freezes are more likely, and North Florida, where they’re inevitable.
Without a doubt, Floridians will take advantage of the temperate climate and grow their beloved tropical plants. So how can homeowners in the Sunshine State protect their plants from a freeze?
Shelter Your Hanging and Potted Plants
The beauty of potted plants is that most are easily moved. In the event of a winter freeze, bring potted plants inside or into the garage (consider moving cars outside for the night).
Potted plants staying outside should be grouped together and placed along a wall or fence for extra protection. Structures like these hold and radiate warmth after absorbing heat throughout the day.
Cover these plants with frost blankets or bed sheets, making sure to cover the plants completely. Wrap the sheets or blankets over and around the plants and fasten them with clothespins or safety pins. Make sure the covers reach to the ground and secure them with stakes in case of wind.
Place any hanging plants on the ground and secure their covers. Delicate plant roots are susceptible to being damaged by freezing temperatures, in which case the plant will lose its vitality until new roots emerge.
How to Protect In-Ground Plants?
Of course, the majority of landscaping plants are not moveable. When a freeze comes, you need a different approach to protect the flowers, shrubs, and small trees growing in the ground.
Water all vegetation during the day before a freeze to protect vulnerable plant roots sitting just below the soil surface; the watered soil will hold warmth through the night.
Mulch added to plant bases will help the soil retain more heat. Cover the plants with sheets or blankets, making sure they reach the ground. Secure the covers with stakes so that they stay put.
For plants small enough, you can cover them with containers of all types, like cloches, jars, buckets, flower pots, tubs, garbage cans, etc.
Protect plants and shrubs that are too tall for a container or a sheet with an insulation barrier. Loosely tie up the shrub and surround it with stakes that are as tall as the plant. Wrap cloth, plastic, or burlap around the stakes, and fill the makeshift barrier with hay, straw, or leaves. This creates a layer of insulation that will hold warmth around the plant.
Cover and secure your plants before the sun sets, and before the soil releases the heat it has absorbed during the day. And don’t forget to turn off the sprinkler system!
After the Freeze
Make sure to remove covers in the morning after a freeze, especially if you’ve used plastic. Plastic coverings left around plants throughout a sunny day can trap heat and burn the covered plants.
Any leaves left brown by a freeze may be removed, but don’t be too hasty in removing branches. They may look lifeless but wait until spring to see if new growth emerges. Feel free to prune off dead branches at this point.