A Frozen Garden: Recovery (2 of 2)

If freeze damage has occurred and the plant looks dead, a natural reaction might be to immediately prune away the cold-damaged vegetation. Removal of the dead vegetation could make the problem even worse for a plant that’s already hanging onto life by a thread. Dead vegetation can help to provide some cold protection to still living tissue lower down the plant. While it may not look aesthetically pleasing, it’s generally best to leave cold-damaged plants alone until warmer weather arrives. Once the threat of freezing temperatures has passed, that’s when a careful assessment of freeze damage should happen. Dead leaves will be notable wilted, curled, or have already dropped off if they are dead. Branches and stems do not show freeze damage as readily as leaves, so wait till new growth occurs or a simple “scratch test”. Use a fingernail to scratch off a small spot of bark: living tissue underneath will be bright green, while dead tissue will range from tan to black. Once the point where living and dead tissue meet, the dead branches can be pruned back to living tissue.

Fortunately, there are many plants that can be grown in even the coldest Florida winters. Cold tolerant fruit trees include: mulberries, peaches, plums, persimmons, muscadine grapes, and loquats. Most leafy green garden plants, such as kale, broccoli, turnips, spinach, etc., are well adapted to winter conditions.


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Posted: November 30, 2023


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