The KPRC Radio Gardenline Tip By Randy Lemmon For 01-13-05 Printer-Friendly Version
Freeze Damage Reminder On Tropical Plants
I've been getting flooded with phone calls and emails about freeze damaged tropicals over the past few weeks, especially since our White Christmas. In the past we've sent out email tip sheets concerning how to handle that damage, but more specifically when to prune such damage.
Although we are expected to get much colder weather this coming weekend, it doesn't look now like it's going to be as hard a freeze as was originally predicted. That's good news in one sense, but it can still be cold enough to do some protection. However, the main question has been, and probably will continue to be "when to prune?"
The simple answer is to wait until we are certain that there is no more freezing weather on the horizon. For most of the Houston area that can often times be projected about mid-February. Always remember that the leaves/fronds of any tropical are expendable, meaning that browning leaves/fronds can be removed at any time. But it's also important to remember that just because the leaves are brown doesn't mean that the plant is dead or dying.
The best way to truly tell if you have "freeze damaged" tropicals is to look at the stems, branches or trunks. If they are showing signs of black/gray or mushiness, then that is freeze damage that should be trimmed back. That's because such damage works its way further down the stem/branch/trunk. So, unless you have such damage, as indicated, then you should wait until at least mid-February when we give you a green light to do wholesale pruning.
We also had an interesting discussion last weekend with Channel 11 meteorologist David Paul, who noted the extreme swings in weather patterns for the past year. His prognostications for the next two months, leads me to agree that we are likely in for at least a couple of more severe cold spells. With that in mind, it's still important to protect those susceptible plants on any night that temperatures are projected to be below 40 degrees, but hold off on the major pruning.
These rules apply to most of these plants: Hibiscus, Bougainvillea, Alamanda, Bananas, Ficus etc. (and all other tropical house plants that might be outdoors).
There are also many landscape plants, especially in the Ornamental Grass category, that are very brown and should also be left alone until our "wholesale pruning" time table. Just try to enjoy them in their dormant stage as a unique specimen to the landscape when they look this dried.
Here's a link to the original Freeze Protection of Tropicals tip sheet.
< http://kprcradio.com/pages/listenernewsletter/GardenTalk_01-16-03.htm >
Until next issue, here's to
Great Gardening from the GardenLine, heard
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