Friday, January 29, 2010

Assessing Freeze Damage

by Bob Albanese

It has been only 3 weeks since the cold weather and everyone seems to be “chomping at the bit” to get out there and do winter clean up, but whoa Nellie -- hold off on the pruning.

Unfortunately it is still too early to prune. The damage done by the freeze is still manifesting in many of the plants. In my own yard the first week after the freeze things looked pretty good and I had very little visible damage. Now two weeks later it looks like someone torched the leaves of many of my previously untouched plants.

Some considerations are:
If at two weeks after a freeze you have plants that got damaged by the cold and the leaves have turned brown and they are still hanging on the plants, it is a very bad sign. These parts of the plants where the leaves are still hanging onto the branches are probably dead or dying. However, do NOT remove them yet! The leaves that are holding on are still serving a purpose, they are protecting the undamaged parts of the plant by acting as umbrellas that will catch later frosts, and they are insulating the stems against another freeze.

Some plants show no signs of any green under the tender bark on the trunk, if so those areas are in fact dead, but if further down you see bits of very dark green just below the tender bark these areas are still manifesting freeze damage. Unfortunately the full extent of the damage is not known yet.

If you see staining and or bleeding on the trunk, this is also a bad sign but not necessarily proof of death, again patience is advised.

Some plants have the ends or tips of their branches shriveling and turning soft, these parts are dead, but the damage is probably not complete yet. Again be patient for a few more weeks.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Treating Cold-Damaged Palms

With the unusually cold weather and freezes in the area many palms can be damaged or even killed by these cold temperatures.

Some popular palms such as Adonidia merrillii (Christmas palm), Roystonia regina (royal palm), Ptychosperma elegans (Alexander palm), Hyophorbe lagenicaulis (bottle palm), Hyophorbe verschaffeltii (spindle palm), and Cocos nucifera (coconut palm) can be damaged and some even killed by cold temperatures.

You can find out about your particular palm and its tolerance to cold by calling (727-582-2110) or visiting the UF/IFAS Pinellas County Extension Service, 12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo. Betrock's "Landscape Palms" by Alan Meerow is also an excellent source of information.

Treating cold-damaged palms may be necessary to keep them from getting bud rot. To learn more see this UF/IFAS publication: