Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chilly Mornings Set Records In Florida

Last night and early morning saw record lows in the 20's for Central Florida with wind chills in the teens. Despite warm La Nina predictions, we are seeing two freezes a week apart and temperatures 20 degrees below normal for this time of the year. The good news is that crabgrass will be killed.
With winter still a week away, our landscapes will have to contend with a few more freezes before March, so what should you do in your landscape to help your plants recover? The answer is: as little as possible. Turn off your sprinkler systems. Watering plants now with damaged foliage and stems will only allow disease and rot to occur in the stems and bark which could increase the plant's chances of death. Chances for rain this weekend will help water your plants naturally, if not irrigating normally on your watering day is all that is needed. For future freezes, make sure that the day before a freeze, hand water the ground around your tropical plants and fruit trees will help keep the warmth of the ground radiating at night.

The bad news is that tropical plants, palms, and fruit trees and any leftover summer annuals will also show damage. Don't remove any damaged leaves or fronds yet. Keeping them on will help insulate the plants during freezes. Optimally, you'll want to wait until the chance for freezing is over - usually at the end of February, mid-March.

Hold off on mowing turf with leaf firing (burned tips) or that has gone dormant until temperatures are back in the 60's. This also will keep the turf from further damage. There is no need for any fertilizing or pesticide treatments this time of year.

When temperatures stay below 28 degrees for more than 2 hours, citrus fruit damage will be likely. Harvest any ripe citrus as soon as possible. If the fruit is edible, the inside of the fruit will still look normal, smell good, and taste good.

If you haven't gotten frost blankets for your tropicals like scheffleras, hibiscus, crotons, allamandas,mandevillas, pygmy date and queen palms.

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