By Lisa Burns
Living in the south with our mild winters, you probably think frost damage in your garden is not something you have to worry about. Truth is if the temperature dips below freezing even for one or two nights, your plants can sustain damage. The type, age and general health of the plant are key factors in whether or not your plants will survive.
Covering your plants is not a guarantee that damage will not occur. If you lay a blanket or tarp over the entire plant and the cover is directly touching the plant there may still be damage. It is also important to remove the cover during the day so the plant can warm up. Like most of you, I am too busy to cover and uncover 100 plants every day during the cold snaps. Most of the time I don’t cover them at all and hope for the best.
Of course, some plants tolerate frost and cooler temperatures better than others do, just as some love our hot humid summers more than others. A few popular plants that are susceptible to frost damage include annuals, Impatiens, Marigolds, Coleus & some sub-tropicals like Hibiscus, Citrus & Bougainvillea. If you notice frost damage on your favorite plants, do not give up too quickly. Any plant that is still alive will attempt to recover. Many of your perennial plants like Salvia & Begonias will die back but the roots can survive the winter only to re-sprout in the spring. The same applies for bulb plants like Day Lilies and Iris. Even if a plant has lost all of its external woody parts, it can re-grow from the root or stem.
If you notice frost damage here are some tips to helping your plants survive:
What about my pond plants?
The same rules apply for your pond plants: no pruning or fertilizing. They will actually have a better chance of survival because the water temperature is generally warmer than the air temperature and the plants will be hydrated from the pond water.
Come spring when the weather warms, look for new growth & start pruning. If a plant is truly dead, don’t be too upset, it means you have an excuse to buy new plants for your garden.
Lisa Burns is co-founder of Backyard Getaway, a landscaping company in Parrish. She can be reached through her website, BackyardGetaway.net.