How to Save Damaged Plants From Cold in Florida


Florida gardeners can have to deal with frost-damaged plants regardless of frost protection. This is especially true in southern regions of Central Florida where frosts and freezes are not an annual event. The easiest way to solve the problem of having frost-damaged plants is to plant the correct plant for the area's temperatures, as some species are more cold tolerant than others. If damage occurs, according to the 'University of Florida', gardeners should wait to start pruning their damaged plants until warm weather has returned to your region.

Step 1

Water plants thoroughly after a frost or freeze to unthaw the soil and wash any concentrated salts from the foliage and roots, as it can burn them. Frosts and freezes will dehydrate the plant.

Step 2

Allow the dead foliage to remain on plants until frosts and freezes have left your particular area. The leaves may be unsightly but they will protect the plant in the event of further cold weather by adding a layer of insulation.

Step 3

Wait five to six weeks after cold weather has left your area in Florida to prune woody plants. Scrape the bark with your fingernail or knife to check for green tissue showing live growth. Plants such as hibiscus and bougainvillea may look dead and leafless but new growth should appear on their branches or shoot up from their roots.

Step 4

Prune away any dead wood right above the where the new growth starts. Sterilize your pruning shears with alcohol so you do not transport any diseases or fungus onto the branches you are pruning.

Step 5

Remove only the palm fronds that are completely brown showing no green growth. Allow the partially green fronds to remain on the palm as they are still providing the tree with nutrients. Spray the palm tree in its entirety with copper fungicide and spreader sticker, per package instructions. Repeat the spraying in 10 days.

Step 6

Wait for deciduous fruit trees such as nectarines and peaches to resume their springtime growth. Many of these species of fruit trees will fare well in frosts and freezes suffering no damage. Prune away dead wood above the new growth.

Step 7

Remove frost damaged citrus fruit from the trees as soon as possible for use before it rots. If the fruit has white spots inside of it frost damaged occurred and it requires removal from the tree if it has not already dropped. Prune off any dead wood right above the new growth in spring.

Tips and Warnings

  • Frost damaged fruit trees and palms can take up to two to three years to fully recover.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Knife
  • Pruning shears
  • Alcohol
  • Loppers
  • Copper fungicide
  • Spreader sticker
  • Pump-up sprayer


  • Florida Times Union Newspaper: After the Freeze
  • University of Florida: Cold Protection of Ornamental Plants

Who Can Help

  • University of Florida: Cold Protection of Ornamental Plants
Keywords: Florida frost care, frost damaged plants, Florida frost damage

About this Author

Joyce Starr is a freelance writer from Florida and owns a landscaping company and garden center. She has published articles about camping in Florida, lawncare, gardening and writes for a local gardening newsletter. She shares her love and knowledge of the outdoors and nature through her writing.