Everyone around here knows we had a very hard freeze a few nights ago. Here in central Florida, a hard freeze is considered to be temperatures below 32 for four (4) hours or more. Our outdoor thermometer showed 25 degrees. This area sustained below-freezing temps for approximately eleven hours.
Probably the most important thing I can share with you is that, when you cover your plants overnight, be sure to remove coverings as soon after the sun gets on them as you possibly can.
Some of my plants surprised me by surviving the freeze. Some surprised me by succumbing to it. Some looked good the morning after the freeze, but about 36 hours later, showed extensive damage. Here are some of them. Sob, sniff. All but one of these photos were taken in the 3 days following the hard freeze.
First, the Survivors:
Variegated Agave, and its Pups: This was, by far, the biggest surprise. I ran out of coverings, and decided that some of the plants would simply have to tough it out that night. This variegated agave was one of them. Imagine my delight when, the morning after the freeze, it looked just as happy and healthy as ever. There are zillions of types of agave, so I have provided the Latin name (Agave americana var. marginata) in case anyone wants this specific type. My agave plants (I have 2) have lots of pups already — 2 of the pups can be seen in this photo. If you live near me, and would like to have one or more, just let me know.
This geranium was sheltered by the huge leaves of a split-leaf philodendron; otherwise, I suspect it would have bit the dust. The buds of the next cluster of flowers can be seen near the bottom of this photo, directly above my first name.
This was another surprise. Even the tender little buds at the center of the photo survived the freeze. This one was moved to the front yard when we had a patio installed in the back. It looks a bit lonely. I believe I will get some more of these tough little plants in a variety of colors. They bloom year-round here, so they really brighten up my garden.
These Next Plants Were Toast Immediately: These I knew would be killed back (or almost back) to the ground. Fortunately, from past experience, I also knew they would grow back as soon as decent weather returned:
New Guinea Impatiens
This is the only one of a group of impatiens (brand name, Sun-Patiens) that survived both the 2013-14 winter and the heat of the summer of 2014. Many of them survived that winter with some cold-damage, but I could see healthy new growth deep down under the damaged part. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of trimming off the damaged parts. A few weeks later, we had another freeze, and the now exposed tender new growth became damaged, too. I lost a few of those plants, then lost more of them that summer, but this one has hung on all this time. This year, I think I will wait longer about trimming off the damaged stems and leaves, so the new growth underneath will be protected. Here’s a photo of this same plant taken about a week before the freeze. What a difference a day makes!
Banana Plant The Morning After the Freeze
Even though I covered this small banana plant, it was still too cold for it. I will wait for it to recover, then move it to a large pot that I can take indoors on the few cold nights we have.
My dad and my uncle used to grow these in Alabama, so I knew I could grow them here. In Alabama, however, the growing season is not long enough. Most people left them in the ground, where they would die back each winter, and grow from the ground up each spring, so their’s never got very tall. Dad got around that by digging up the plants in the fall, putting the root ball in large garbage bags, and keeping them in the basement until about April each year. They hold enough water, that there is no need to water them over the winter if kept in plastic bags as he did. Eventually, of course, his grew too large to be manageable, and he stopped growing them.
Banana Plant One Week Later:
As you can see below, my banana plant is already asserting itself. Soon I can clip off the old brown leaves. Right now, I will leave them to provide protection to the tender part underneath.
A Delayed Reaction: These next few photos are of plants that either looked good or showed only minimal damage that first morning, but by late the next day, showed considerable damage.
Split Leaf Philodendron
This one looked great the morning after the freeze. The next day, not so much.
One day later, the lantana looked dead, except for a perfect green leaf here and there. See the one near the center of this photo? I can’t cut back the damaged “wood” of the lantana plants, because they are hollow. If there were to be another freeze, water and ice would get inside the stems, and the entire plant would be killed.
Lantana in Better Days
If you live in areas where the lantana is killed back to the ground each winter, be sure to cut it back before the first freeze to a height of about 4 – 6 inches. Then mulch it very, very well, completely covering the plant. If you do this, it will come back in the spring.
This hibiscus showed very little damage the morning after the freeze, but began looking worse and worse as time passed. Fortunately, the tightest buds were undamaged, and have already opened to show off gorgeous flowers.
Spring is Already Teasing Us
After a high of 87 yesterday, we had a high this morning of 68, with temps falling all day today. We’re told normal temps of mid-seventies will return tomorrow.