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Cleaning Up Your Cold Damaged Plants

South Florida has avoided freezing temperatures for many years and during that time most gardeners have incorporated many gorgeous tropical plants into their home landscapes. Many of those beautiful tropical plants may have recently been severely damaged by the cold weather. Annual flowers like impatiens, coleus, begonias and tomatoes can collapse in the freeze and may need to be replaced. Tropical plants like heliconias, bananas, gingers, dieffenbachia and chenille shrubs in your garden can suffer some stem dieback some right down to the ground. If there appears to be some stems that have died back remove them with a sharp, clean hand pruner. 

Tender shrubs that lost their leaves initially should grow back. When only leaves sprout back on the top portions of the shrubs, you may need to prune to rejuvenate. This type of pruning should be done over a period of 3 years, removing 1/3 of the old stems right down to the ground each year until the entire shrub looks new and bushy again.

On established exotic trees and shrubs cold injury may appear as a lack of spring bud break on a portion of or all of the plant, or as an overall weak appearance. Branch tips may be damaged while older wood is free of injury. Cold injured wood can be identified by examining the cambium layer (food conducting tissue) under the bark for black or brown coloration. Prune these branches behind the point of discoloration. If the cambium layer just under the bark is still green, then the stem is alive no need to remove any parts of these branches. To support new Spring growth, fertilize your entire landscape this month with a slow release 8-2-12 with micronutrients.

The cold weather can cause the older fronds on your coconut palms to turn totally brown, those dead leaves will need to be removed.

Florida homeowners enjoy a vast array of plant materials and often desire a tropical or semitropical appearance to their landscapes. Plants are often planted past their northern limit in Florida, although microclimates differ dramatically. Tropical and subtropical plants can be used effectively in the landscape, but they must be protected or replaced when necessary. A combination of tender and hardy plants should be planted in order to prevent total devastation of the landscape by extremely cold weather.

Damage on some plants and trees cannot be seen for several weeks.

Call the Master Gardener Volunteer Hotline with your cold damage pruning questions Monday-Friday 9AM-4PM at 233-1750 or stop by the Palm Beach County Cooperative Extension Service to pick up a University of Florida proper pruning publication at 531 North Military Trail WPB.

Figure 1: Mounts Botanical Garden Horticulturists Mike Page and Joel Crippen wrapping tropical cacao-chocolate tree to keep it warm.

Sugarcane Mosaic Virus on St. Augustine grass in Palm Beach County

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The Cattle Identification Rule (Chapter 5C-31, Florida Administrative Code) has been published with an effective date of September 4, 2014. This rule is intended to improve our ability to respond to serious disease outbreaks and to help the industry maintain out-of-state markets.
Click here for more information.

Every drop of water that exits your landscape eventually moves on, and may take with it residues resulting from landscaping practices. Water that runs off of your property makes its way to our ground and surface waters, including the Lake Worth Lagoon, the Everglades and the Atlantic Ocean. Click here to view our newest brochure, Protect Palm Beach County’s Water and Environment, which explains how you can use Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ principles to achieve a beautiful, low-maintenance landscape while protecting and preserving our precious environment, ground, and surface waters.

Palm Beach County Landscape professionals know that beginning in January of 2014, anyone who applies fertilizers commercially will be required to hold a Limited Certification for Urban Landscape Commercial Fertilizer (often called the “fertilizer license”) issued by the Bureau of Entomology and Pest Control.  A new UF / IFAS  Palm Beach County Extension fact sheet addresses some of the most common questions related to obtaining your GI-BMP certification and fertilizer license, such as: How Do I Request a Duplicate GI-BMP Certificate, and How Do I Apply for the Fertilizer License once I receive my GI-BMP certificate? 

View the fact sheet for answers:  Frequently Asked Questions: Understanding and Obtaining the GI-BMP Certification and Limited Certification for Urban Landscape Commercial Fertilizer License.  

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Article Archives

Attracting our Feathered Friends
Bee Cautious, Be Proactive
Cloning Your Fruit Trees
Cold Protection
Home Composting
Easy Houseplants
Edible Landscapes
Flooded Landscapes
Florida Friendly Irrigation Tips
Fragrant Plants
Garden Gifts
Ground Covers
Growing Bananas
Grow Your Own Backyard Veggies
Healthy Palm Pointers from the University of Florida
Herb Gardening in Southern Florida
Holiday Plant Care
Hurricanes Have Taught Us a Lesson
Gardening to Attract Hummingbirds
Non-Aggressive Rooted Trees
Patio Fruit Trees
Pineapple Growing in the Home Landscape
Selecting the Perfect Holiday Tree
Shade Your House, Save Money
Scary Spiders in Mounts Botanical Garden
Spring Flowering Vines
Spring Tree Maintenance
Summer Lovin’ Flowers
Summer Roses
Tomatoes in the Florida Garden
Trees With Benefits- Selecting a Small Tree for the Home Landscape
Tropical Flowering Bulbs for South Florida
Tropical Vegetables for the South Florida Garden
Why is it so important to plant native species?
Cactus and Succulent Container Gardens



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