Cold Weather Is A Coming -- Protect Your Plants
Posted 09 January 2007 - 05:31 PM
WHAT TO DO BEFORE A FREEZE
Thoroughly watering landscape plants before a freeze may reduce the degree of freeze damage. Many times cold weather is accompanied by strong, dry winds. These winds may cause damage by drying plants out and watering helps to prevent this. Wetting the foliage of plants before a freeze does not, however, provide any cold protection. A well-watered soil will also absorb more solar radiation than dry soil, and will re-radiate the heat during the night.
Move all tender plants in containers and hanging baskets into buildings where the temperature will stay above freezing. If this is not possible, group all container plants in a protected area (like the inside corner of a covered patio) and cover them with plastic. If plants are kept inside for extended periods, make sure they receive as much light as possible.
For plants growing in the ground, mulches can help protect them. Use a loose, dry material such as pine straw or leaves. You should be aware that mulches will only protect what they cover. Mulch at the base of a bird-of-paradise will help the roots, but will provide no added protection to the leaves. Mulches, then, are best used to protect below ground parts, crowns or may be used to completely cover low growing plants to a depth of four inches. Leave complete cover on no more than three or four days.
If they are not too large, individual plants can be protected by covering them with various sized cardboard or Styrofoam boxes.
Larger plants can be protected by creating a simple structure and covering it with sheets, quilts or plastic. The structure holds the covering off the foliage preventing branch breakage and improving cold protection. It need be nothing more elaborate than three stakes slightly taller than the plant driven into the ground. The cover should extend to the ground and be sealed with soil, stones or bricks. Plastic covers should be vented or removed on sunny, warm days.
The covers will work best for radiational freezes by preventing or blocking heat loss. The extreme, prolonged cold that occurs during advective freezes is not so easily dealt with. Many plants will still die even with protection. This can be helped by providing a heat source under the covering. A safe, easy way to do this is to generously wrap or drape the plant with small outdoor Christmas lights. The lights provide heat but do not get hot enough to burn the plant or cover. Please be careful and use only outdoor extension cords and sockets.
If necessary, you may prune back a large plant, like a hibiscus, to make its size more practical to cover. For trees, such as citrus, that are too large to cover, you may at least want to wrap the trunk with an insulating material such as foam rubber or blankets. Even if the top dies, you may be able to regrow the tree from the surviving trunk.
If you are growing vegetables, harvest any broccoli, cauliflower, fava beans or peas that are ready. Freezing temperatures will not hurt the plants, but can damage the heads, pods and flowers. Also, any citrus fruit should be harvested from the tree prior to a hard freeze.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A FREEZE
After a freeze is over, check the water needs of plants in containers and in the ground. Unless you are keeping them inside for the rest of the winter, move container plants back to their spots outside.
For plants that you covered, remove or vent clear plastic covers on plants to prevent excessive heat buildup if the next day is sunny and mild. You do not need to completely remove the cover if it will freeze again the next night. You may leave plants covered with blankets or sheets for several days without harming them, but eventually the covers will need to be removed so they can get light.
Do not prune anything for several days after a freeze. It often takes several days for all of the damage to become evident.
Damaged growth on herbaceous or nonwoody plants, such as cannas, elephant ears, birds-of-paradise, begonias, impatiens, philodendron and gingers, may be pruned away back to living tissue. This pruning is optional, and is done more to neaten things up than to benefit the plants. However, if the damaged tissue is oozy, mushy, slimy and foul smelling, it should be removed.
You may remove the damaged foliage from banana trees but do not cut back the trunk unless you can tell for sure that it has been killed. It will look brown, feel mushy, feel loose in the soil and will bleed a lot if punctured. The exception would be any banana trees that produced a bunch of fruit the past year. They will not send up any more new growth, and should be cut to the ground to make room for new shoots that will come up in summer.
Generally, it's a good idea to delay hard pruning of woody tropical plants, such as hibiscus, tibouchina, angel trumpet, croton, ixora, schefflera, copper plant and rubber tree, until new growth begins in the spring and you can more accurately determine which parts are alive and what is dead. Dead leaves on woody tropical plants can be picked off to make things look neater. If you can clearly determine what branches are dead on a woody plant you can prune them back. Try scratching the bark with your thumbnail. If the tissue underneath is green, it's still alive. If the tissue is tan or brown the branch is dead. Start at the top and work your way down to see how far back the plant was killed.
Tropical and sub-tropical plants can be used effectively in the landscape, but they must be protected or replaced when necessary. The best idea is to plant a good combination of tender and hardy plants, so that your landscape is not totally devastated in the event of extremely cold weather.
Folsom Weather Webmaster
Posted 09 January 2007 - 10:32 PM
I don't think I'm going to be able to make a cover for the orange tree, however. I guess I'll just put some christmas lights on it and hope for the best. Probably shouldn't drape sheets on top of the christmas lights.
Really hope most of our plants survive!
Posted 10 January 2007 - 07:54 PM
Speaking of folsomweather.com, what's wrong with the graphs? They haven't been updating since Sunday. I hope you can get them going again before the cold weather strikes.
Posted 11 January 2007 - 12:35 AM
Posted 11 January 2007 - 01:03 PM
URGENT - WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SACRAMENTO CA
755 AM PST THU JAN 11 2007
...VERY COLD OVERNIGHT TEMPERATURES EXPECTED FRIDAY NIGHT AND
SATURDAY MORNING AND AGAIN SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING...
.A TROUGH OF LOW PRESSURE WILL DIG INTO NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
TODAY...BRINGING A COLD ARCTIC AIRMASS INTO THE AREA. AS THIS
TROUGH SHIFTS TO THE SOUTHEAST TONIGHT AND FRIDAY...EVEN MORE DRY
ARCTIC AIR WILL FILTER INTO THE REGION. GUSTY NORTH TO NORTHEAST
WINDS WILL ACCOMPANY THIS COLD AIR TONIGHT AND FRIDAY...MAKING
THE ALREADY COLD TEMPERATURES FEEL MUCH COLDER. ALTHOUGH TONIGHT
MAY FEEL LIKE THE COLDEST NIGHT GIVEN THE WIND CHILL FACTOR...THE
TEMPERATURES WILL LOWER MORE ON FRIDAY NIGHT AS THE WINDS LIGHTEN
AND SKIES CLEAR. TEMPERATURES FRIDAY NIGHT AND SATURDAY MORNING
ARE EXPECTED TO DROP INTO THE TEENS AND TWENTIES ACROSS THE
CENTRAL VALLEY...DELTA... AND SURROUNDING FOOTHILLS...WITH NEAR
RECORD TEMPERATURES POSSIBLE IN SOME LOCATIONS. ANOTHER NIGHT OF
VERY COLD TEMPERATURES IS EXPECTED SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY
Sinatra "Here's to the Losers"
Posted 11 January 2007 - 01:23 PM
Posted 11 January 2007 - 10:27 PM
If anyone sees any pipe insulation, thin (e.g. 2" x 15" x 15') rolls of fiberglass insulation let me know. it would be nice to know where to send the customers I can't provide insulation to. Our corporate buyers can't predict buying sprees like this and the media has caused a feeding frenzy.
You know what was the scariest fact? Few people who came in for insulation had the slightest clue how to potect their exterior pipes, pool systems or irrigation systems. Hopefully we get everyone protected and don't have disasters like the last freeze, in the 90's, caused. I heard stories entire roadways of homes experiencing frozen and bursting pipes.
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