Temperatures in Florida sometimes dip to below freezing, which can damage tropical and subtropical ornamental plants without protection. Tender plants easily sustain damage when the temperature plummets to below 50 F. Gardeners can take precautions to plan for freezing temperatures at the time of planting. They can also offer protection when an expected frost is predicted.
Plant tender plants that cannot withstand frost in areas that offer protection. The south side of the house or a building offers additional protection. Along a fence line can also help shield the plant from the cold. Larger trees offer protection to tender plants during a cold snap. The planting site should offer good air circulation and good soil drainage.
Fertilize all landscape plants in north and central Florida in March, June, September and December. Provide fertilization in south Florida during the months of February, May, August and November. Fertilizer helps strengthen the plant to withstand weather changes. Use 1/2 lb. per 100 square feet of garden space of either 12-4-8 or 16-4-8 fertilizer during the spring and summer. Reduce the fertilizer application by half for winter and fall feedings.
Water all plants the day that a freeze is predicated. The wet soil absorbs solar radiation from the sunlight during the daytime, and then it radiates the heat during the night to offer a bit of warmth to the plants.
Move all plants in containers, baskets or pots into a garage, shed or indoors to offer protection. If the pot is too large to move far, then place the large plant beside the house so the walls provide some heat.
Cover tender plants using sheets, blankets, quilts or simple black plastic the evening that a frost is predicted. Make sure the covers touch the ground all the way around the plant, shrub or tree. Weight the covers down using bricks or rocks.
Place an overhead sprinkling system beside tender trees or shrubs and turn the water on. Water the foliage of the tree or shrub throughout the night. The water will keep the leaves of the plant at approximately 32 F, according to the University of Florida.