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How to Save Plants in a Hard Freeze in Florida

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How to Save Plants in a Hard Freeze in Florida

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Overview

Winter intrusions of cold sometimes penetrate all the way south to Florida. Most vegetation in Florida is very sensitive to hard freezes and will either die back to the ground or perish completely when a hard freeze hits. It is possible to save plants in a hard freeze in Florida with a few careful preparations. Using supplemental heat is ideal to keep plants safe from a freeze, and lights are an easy-to-find and inexpensive heat source.

Light and Cover

Step 1

String Christmas lights around your plants before the freeze hits. You may also place a flood or mechanics light in the center of a larger grouping of plants--you will cover these all with one cover.

Step 2

Cover the plants with a blanket and weigh down the edges with bricks or other heavy materials. For plants that are taller, utilize an upside-down garbage can as a cover.

Step 3

Turn the lights on before the freeze hits and leave on until the temperatures have risen above freezing. Remove the blanket during the warm daylight hours so the plants don't overheat.

Water Jug Method

Step 1

Figure out how many water jugs are needed to surround each plant in a circle.

Step 2

Fill the jugs with water and place around the plants the afternoon before the freeze event.

Step 3

Lay a blanket over the jugs and the plants. Tuck the blanket down to the ground tight around the jugs and secure with bricks or other weights. The water jugs will have absorbed solar radiation during the day; during the night, the heat will be released from the jugs and help keep your plants warm.

Step 4

Remove the blanket and jugs once the temperatures rebound above freezing the next morning.

Running Sprinklers

Step 1

Set up sprinklers the day before the freeze. Turn them on and adjust the spray so it hits each plant.

Step 2

Water the ground thoroughly until it's moist. Turn the sprinklers off.

Step 3

Turn the sprinklers back on just before the temperatures fall below freezing. Allow them to run during the entire freeze event.

Step 4

Allow the sprinklers to keep running the following morning until all the ice is melted off the plants, then turn the sprinklers off.

Tips and Warnings

  • Keep the lights a few inches away from your plants and foliage. Bulbs that come in contact with foliage may cause your plants to burn because of their significant heat output. The high water output from the sprinkler method can cause more harm than good if you have poorly draining soil. The water-logged soil can induce root rot. This method should only be used in well-draining sandy soils.

Things You'll Need

  • Christmas lights or mechanics light
  • Blankets
  • Bricks or other weights
  • Extension cord
  • Power source
  • Jugs filled with water
  • Lawn sprinklers
  • Garden hose

References

  • Texas A&M: Frosts and Freezes
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Cold Protection of Ornamental Plants
  • Garden Fairies: Tips to Protect Your Plants as Florida Enters The Deep Freeze
Keywords: save plants hard freeze, Christmas lights, mechanics light, cover plants, garbage can, plants Florida freeze

About this Author

Robin Gonyo has been writing for several years now. She has a deep love for gardening and has spent a vast amount of time researching that subject. Previously she has written for private clients before joining Demand Studios. She hopes to share her knowledge with others through her writing.