Florida has been through a period of warm winters. When I say warm I mean Central Florida has not seen many hard freezes in the last 11 years. During these warm periods, homeowners forget those tortuous cold nights on their tropical plants. For a few years, homeowners fret and purchase more cold-hardy plants. After a few warm winters, they forget and the cycle repeats itself.
Planning for Success
Last year we had a cold spell in February. It was just enough for a few eyebrows to be raised, but sometimes, gardeners can have short-term memories. The lure of lush tropical landscapes with exotic flowers is just too strong for some. Those that love that tropical look, with a little work and planning, they can have their cake and eat it too. They will need to learn some tricks to protect those plants and also have a basic understanding of how cold affects plants.
Did you say microclimate?
Central Florida has quite a varying climate. Although knowing which USDA plant zone you live in is helpful for generalities, it becomes vague when you are considering cold-hardiness. Microclimates can change the game and knowing how to locate them is even more important. Microclimates are areas small areas of varying climates. They can cover square miles or only square feet. Large areas often depend on topography such as elevation, slopes, and geographical locations. Small areas can be geographical features or manmade things. In Florida, a large warm microclimate may be on the southern and eastern sides of a body of water, at a higher elevation, or on a southern slope. a small microclimate may be on the southern side of a house or under the canopy of a tree.
Covering your Plants
There are lots of considerations when deciding how to protect your plants. Covering them to trap heat can be very effective. Frost cloth has become popular and can replace your grandma’s sheets, although sheets and blankets can still be useful in a pinch. To learn the best tricks for keeping your plants you will want to come to our Cold protection workshop. We will also be selling frost cloth there so don’t miss the opportunity to get ready for winter.
Learn from UF/IFAS
Learning where to place plants within your yard and neighborhood can be the difference between success and failure. How you treat those plants and tricks to protecting them is something that takes a little know-how. On December 10th we are offering a free cold-protection class at the Bert J Harris Agricultural Center at 4509 George Blvd in Sebring. Register by clicking HERE! or call the UF/IFAS Extension office at (863) 402-6540 for more information.
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