It seems winter might finally be arriving in Florida, bringing freezing temperatures.
Here are some tips for what to do after your lawn and garden are hit by a freeze:
Watering before a freeze can help moderate soil temperatures, protecting the roots.
Ensure the soil around damaged plants stays somewhat moist. Do not allow it to dry out completely.
If temperatures stay below freezing for a prolonged period, watering may help defrost the ground and give plants some available water.
Remember to never leave hoses pressurized with water during cold weather. It makes them likely to split or burst.
Do Not Fertilize It
Injured plants make people want to baby them. Resist the urge. Do not fertilize until spring, when plants begin actively growing again.
Fertilizing with nitrogen leads to new growth—which is more sensitive to the cold—resulting in more damage.
Do Not Prune It Back
While it may be ugly, the wilted, brown and dead plant material associated with frost or freeze damage protects the part of the plant still living from cold temperatures.
Leave it there until the danger of cold is gone in the spring, then check for new growth.
Woody plants—shrubs, vines and trees—can be checked by scratching the surface with a fingernail and seeing the color of the wood underneath. Black or dark brown wood can be a sign of cold damage.
Tender, fleshy plants—such as begonias or impatiens—can be pruned back after the cold so they don’t rot, leading to disease.
A Browning Lawn is Normal
With cold weather, many lawns turn brown as they head into full dormancy.
Don’t worry. This is normal. Some yards even take on a purplish tint in the cold.
However, if temperatures drop too low, it can cause permanent damage to lawns, which can be seen by wilting, turning to a brown or white color, and then resulting in a rotting smell.
If growth does not resume in the spring, you likely need to replace damaged areas.
If you have questions about horticulture, landscape topics, or need plant or pest materials identified, contact your UF/IFAS Extension office at solutionsforyourlife.com.