First cold snap arrives; protect tender plants

by Ms. Grow-It-All on October 29, 2012

in Gardening in general, Gardening Tips

The first cold spell of fall has arrived in the Tallahassee/Big Bend/Eastern Florida Panhandle region, and while it is not expected to freeze, the low temperatures forecast for tonight (37 degrees F., according to WFSU-FM) could damage tender plants left unprotected outdoors.
If you have potted Christmas cacti that you’ve left outdoors since March, which many of us do, make sure you bring them indoors or move them to a protected area, such as an unheated garage or garden shed. The flower buds are forming now, and exposure to temperatures below 40 will cause the flower buds to drop off and you won’t get the great blooms this year.
It’s supposed to start warming up again after tonight, so you’ll probably be able to move your Christmas cactus back outside.
Tropicals, in particular, need to be protected. Many of them go into shock at temperatures below 45 or 50. If you treat tropicals like perennials, expecting them to die back and return next spring, then expect them to start dying back after tonight’s chilly weather. Make sure you mulch the crown well to protect it from cold.
You can also water your tender plants to give the roots an extra bit of protection. Wet soil retains heat better than dry soil, and it’s sunny today. Rake back the mulch and let the soil warm up, just be sure to put it back before nightfall.
And look at the bright side: Tonight’s chilly weather should kill off a few garden pests.


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