Cold Weather's Approaching...Protect Those Plants
Winter temperatures in Florida can get low enough to damage plants, especially if they're not acclimated to lower temperatures. Sudden freezes after a period of warm weather often do more damage to plants than a freeze during a period of cold weather.
Acclimatization, protection, and proper post-freeze pruning can help your plants survive a freezing spell or harsh winter season.
BEFORE THE FREEZE
Plants in containers should be moved into protected areas where heat can be supplied or trapped. If you have to leave containers outdoors, push them together and protect with mulch to reduce heat loss from the container walls.
Heat radiates from soil surfaces during the night and is mainly lost to the atmosphere unless it is trapped. Reduce radiant heat loss and protect plant roots by placing mulch around the plants. For perennials, the root system is all that needs to be protected.
Coverings protect more from frost than from extreme cold. Covers that extend to the ground and do not touch plant foliage can lessen cold injury trapping heat. However, be careful when using plastic as a cover because foliage that touches plastic coverings is often injured since the cover actually takes heat away from the plant.
Examples of coverings include cloth sheets, quilts, plastic, or commercial frost cloths. Remove plastic covers during a sunny day or provide ventilation to keep the air under the cover from heating up too much. Putting a light bulb under a cover is a simple method of providing heat to ornamental plants in the landscape.
AFTER THE FREEZE
After a freeze, especially on a sunny day, plants can lose water because the water in the soil or container medium is frozen. Watering the plants will give them available water and will also help thaw the soil.