I just watched the latest weather update for central Florida and I hope my plants will be alright tonight. The weather forecast is calling for temperatures in the 20's with cold wind chill values from midnight tonight to 9 tomorrow morning. What does this mean to my plants and fruit trees? Tonight, not really that much because it won't be a killing frost coming through. It's hard for a lot of people to believe that Florida can have a killing frost but we do, at least from central Florida up through the panhandle. Tomorrow evening is another story however. Tomorrow night there will be a killing frost coming through. What this means is I'm probably going to have to break the rules and put my irrigation system on about 3 a.m. to place a layer of ice on my plants and fruit trees to protect them. Breaking the rules is in reference to the watering restrictions we have in place in many parts of Florida mainly due to the fact we didn't get any real hurricanes this year and the ones that passed us by also took the regular summertime rain with them to drop somewhere else, just not here. Getting back to the trees and plants, especially the trees. When you wet the fruit on the trees and some fruit bearing plants, what you are in essence doing is putting an overcoat on them to PROTECT them from the cold. Interesting concept huh? Put water on fruit to freeze over to keep them from getting frozen. It works, just ask the Florida strawberry farmers how they protect their investments every year. Home stores sell burlap and other special fabrics that are supposed to keep the bitter cold away but when nature wants to get through it always will. The one thing I recommend that you DO NOT do is use any form of plastic as this can actually transmit the cold to your plants or trees faster than if they had direct exposure to the cold and probably kill the plant faster. I say what doesn't kill the plants will make them stronger AND healthier next year. It's worked so far!
Another reason to let the cold in is that the fruit on the trees will become sweeter after the cold hits them. I have Marsh and Ruby Red grapefruit, navel, Valencia, and Clementine oranges, Persian lime, Meyer lemon, Guava tree, fig trees, banana trees and a few others I'll remember later I'm sure. It's an amazing transformation when the sweet hits the fruit and enjoyable when doing yard work, get thirsty and grab a fresh orange. Mmmm, good!
I will be posting this story on all of my sites as a reminder for the winter and your plants!