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Plant Injury During Winter Months

Old man winter has surely made his presence known here in Central Florida. With temperatures dipping into the mid-twenties overnight for an entire weeOld man winter has surely made his presence known here in Central Florida. With temperatures dipping into the mid-twenties overnight for an entire week, many plants have responded to the deep freeze in a variety of ways. Our turf grasses have gone dormant resulting in a grayish-brown color. Dormancy acts as a defense against cold damage to active plant tissues. Tropical plants like hibiscus have been burned back. We are even seeing a rust-brown color on the Jack Frost in Ocean Hammock.

Cold snaps are not unusual for Central Florida. Plant injury can and does occur, nonetheless. The two most serious factors that can cause plant injury in the winter are sudden freezes and lack of water. Sudden freezes damage plants because sudden freezes provide little to no time for plants to acclimate and harden off. Hardening off is a gradual process by which a plant becomes ready to withstand harsh conditions. Hardening off has a slightly different meaning when used in the nursery grower industry.

Water is the other serious factor that is sometimes overlooked. Reducing water is absolutely necessary in the winter due to slower plant growth. However, plants still need water. Windy conditions often accompany winter weather as cold fronts blow through our area. These windy conditions evaporate the water from the soil and plants. Irrigation may be necessary depending on natural rainfall.

To read about plant injury in more detail, see this month’s Scoop, “Plant Injury During Winter Months.”
Snapdragons, Winter Sentinel of the South
The Scoop on Horticulture - All About Annuals
 

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