What to do Pre & Post Freeze for Your Plants

What to do Pre and Post Freezes for your plants           

by: Allynne Jones • Florida Certified Horticultural Professional

From time to time we experience freezes here in Flagler County.  Occasionally the temperatures are flirting around freezing which won’t cause a large amount of damage however, when there is a threat of a “hard freeze” where the temperature (or wind-chill) would go down in the mid to low 20s for three plus hours- your tropical and semi-tropical plants will experience freeze damage.  This weekend, we are expecting this type of weather!

Freezes cause moisture to aspirate from the plants which is why they turn brittle and brown from the freezing temperatures.  This may not appear for 36-48 hours after a freeze though.

So what can you do to protect your tropical or semi-tropical plants?  The day prior to the freeze, water your plant roots well to help with moisture loss.  Cover your plants completely (ideally to the ground) to minimize damage. Remember to take off the blankets in the morning if the temperature warms up or the plants are in direct sun.  Professional grade frost blanket is available for purchase at our Garden Center or use sheets (double them if possible), burlap or lightweight blankets- all will also work.  NEVER use plastic.  However, understand that any time fabric of any description sits on foliage, there will still be frost burn- however possibly not a dead plant!  Many semi-tropical plants recover from freezes if they are well established.  Even if they appear to be frozen completely-be patient!  Also, if your plants suffer freeze damage, DO NOT trim them right away.  This will expose more of the plant to damage.  Wait until March to trim, when new growth is beginning to appear.  If the plant has been frozen completely, trim back to about 6 inches above the ground and they may come back from the roots.

One note though, if you have a citrus tree, especially a small one, make sure you cover it to protect the roots because all citrus is grafted and the rootstock is not what the tree is so
“coming back from the roots” is  not an option with citrus trees.  Also, perennials like Blu My Mind or lantana will also die back with freezes, but again, if well-established they should come back from the roots in the spring.


As always, if you have questions- stop by the garden center or email us at: verdego.landscape1@gmail.com