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Turfgrass Gone Dormant

Turfgrass Gone Dormant

We have reached that time of year when cold temperatures have set in and sent most of our plants into dormancy. Turf grasses are not immune to this d

We have reached that time of year when cold temperatures have set in and sent most of our plants into dormancy. Turf grasses are not immune to this dormancy. In fact, dormancy acts as a shield of defense to susceptible plant tissues against cold damage. Turf dormancy is accompanied by a browning of the leaf blades and some shoot death. Instead of continuing normal metabolism rates, turf leaves reduce their metabolism and growth. Reduced metabolism means reduced transpiration. Transpiration is plant water loss through normal plant functions. This reduction in water loss or transpiration is why less irrigation is required in the winter months. This does not mean the turf can go without any water all winter, however.

Turf grasses vary in their resilience to cold temperatures. St. Augustine happens to be one of the least cold tolerant grasses. This is in part why one will not find St. Augustine much farther north than Georgia-South Carolina. Zoysia is perhaps the most cold tolerant of turf grasses that will grow here in Central and North Florida. Zoysia grass is quickly becoming more and more popular here in Florida because of its reduced water needs compared to St. Augustine. Zoysia grass is more shade tolerant than St. Augustine and does not get chinch bugs like St. Augustine. No grass is free of pests, however. Zoysia can be damaged by fungus, nematodes, and hunting billbugs.

 

 
Proper maintenance is perhaps the best defense against many pest issues. Adjusting irrigation based on need and cutting with sharp mower blades at proper heights are a few examples of proper maintenance practices that will help a turf grass stand up better against pests. Read more about winter effects on plants in “Plant Injury During Winter Months.”(Thank you to Dr. Trenholm and her book, The Florida Lawn Handbook, for supplying much of this information.)
The Scoop on Horticulture - After the Cold
Snapdragons, Winter Sentinel of the South
 

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