Selecting the right plant for the right place is important for many reasons, including maintaining healthy plants through a cold spell. Resident of Lake County, Florida live in plant hardiness zones 9A and 9B. Plants adapted to 9A can service temperatures as low as 20-25 degrees for short periods while those in 9B can tolerate low temperatures from 25-30 degrees. This is comforting news for those of us facing colder than normal temperatures this winter. Plants adapted to these zones may show some signs of frost damage, but most should survive. The issue comes when we have more exotic plants better adapted to warmer zones. Bananas, pineapple, papaya, dessert rose, and other tropical plants require protection before the temperatures drop. Know the temperature limits for your plants and plan accordingly.
There is a helpful blog here that goes over how to prepare for cold weather. This blog focuses on what to do after the cold weather has passed.
It can take several weeks after a cold snap to know the full extent of the damage to your landscape plants. Some show signs of damage right away, while others develop symptoms more slowly. You want to avoid heavy pruning and plant removal after a freeze. Heavy pruning can lead to new growth. Another frost or freeze will damage this new growth. Wait until there is no longer a reasonable chance of the temperature dropping before heavily pruning your plants. Plants the look dead may come back, such as the banana. These will die back after a freeze and grow up from the roots in the spring.
You can remove individual leaves after they fully turn brown. Water your plants on the warmer, sunnier days following the cold spell. Most plants are still dormant or very slow growing this time of year. Wait to apply fertilizer once the growing season starts.
by Jamie Daugherty
Source: UF/IFAS Pest Alert
Note: All images and contents are the property of UF/IFAS.