How to Save Outdoor Tropical Plants With Frost Damage

Overview

Tropical plants are categorized as such because of their low tolerance for freezing temperatures. These plants should only be grown out of doors in tropical climates with mild winters. However, weather can be a tricky thing. Even the Deep South can fall victim to a sudden, uncharacteristic freeze. And even a few nights of below-freezing temperatures can cause considerable damage to a tropical plant. However, if the damage is not too extensive, most tropical plants can be saved.

Step 1

Wait until spring to treat frost damage. In the interim, if there is any danger of temperatures falling below freezing again, your tropical plants must be protected. Spread a 1- to 3-inch layer of mulch around the base of the plant to help it retain heat. Then cover it with burlap and secure the ends of the burlap by weighing it down with bricks. Remove any fruit on the plant as soon as possible.

Step 2

Wait until the plant exhibits new growth to prune away the damaged tissue and leaves. Branches that produce new growth should not be pruned.

Step 3

Check unproductive branches to see if they are dead. Use a sharp knife sterilized with bleach to make a shallow incision into each unproductive branch. If it is alive, the tissue underneath the top layer will be green or a light color. Do not prune any branches with living tissue.

Step 4

Prune the dead limbs of the plant with a pair of sharp pruning shears sterilized with bleach. Prune these branches as close to the parent branch as possible so that no stump is left behind. Do not prune more than one-third of the plant at a time. Any remaining dead tissue should be left until next spring.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Bleach
  • Burlap
  • Bricks
  • Knife

References

  • University of California: Frost Damaged Plants
  • Gardening Know How: Tips for Saving Cold Damaged Plants
  • Tropical Mango: Freeze Damage Care
Keywords: tropical frost, frost damage, save plants from frost

About this Author

Emma Gin is a freelance writer who specializes in green, healthy and smart living. She is currently working on developing a weight-loss website that focuses on community and re-education. Gin is also working on a collection of short stories, because she knows what they say about idle hands.