South Florida experienced record low temperatures during the month of January. It has been 20 years since we have experienced temperatures of this nature. Due to the “sub-tropical” nature of South Florida and the vegetation found within the area; many of our tropical species were not equipped to handle or rebound from these record low temps.
From Martin to Palm Beach Counties we took precautionary measures to minimize the potential damage from the “freeze” by blanketing the vegetation. Unfortunately, this year even blanketing, which normally protects the plants, did not do the trick. The result has been sporadic damage to nearly all tropical species commonly found in South Florida.
Effects of the cold weather are visible in many residential and commercial landscapes. Tropical hardwoods such as Ficus, Cassia and Black Olive are displaying signs of mass leaf drop. Palms have taken the biggest hit as there is both visible damage at present (including yellowing of all lower and mid level fronds) and a delayed response that may not show up for up to 6 months. Coconuts are also showing signs of shock. Shrubs such as Ixora, Duranta, Allamanda and Crotons are also displaying similar symptoms such as mass leaf drop and burned foliage. Blanketing annual flowers has been successful in some cases, however in the most severe instances blanketing proved to be insufficient in guarding against damage from the cold. Lastly, nearly all forms of turf are showing signs of color depletion and generally have lost their vigor.
The ultimate result has been a severe hit to the aesthetic/curb appeal of properties throughout South Florida. Our advice – it is better to act now to start rejuvenating and replenishing your landscape than waiting to see the effect of the harsh temperatures, if you have not done so already.
It is critical that we acknowledge we are still under the potential threat of another frost alert this year (generally ends early March). It is also important that we do not over prune any plants or palms as this will increase their exposure to the next wave of cold weather. Over pruning will only increase the levels of damage and potential loss.
According to the University of Florida, “pruning can harm the tree’s health, stability and appearance” and with the low temperatures we have been experiencing, the effects are even more harmful. Fertilizing at this time is not recommended as it is unable to breakdown and be absorbed by most plants in cooler weather.
Please know the majority of the damage we see will be temporary. Most of your landscape will rebound with the onset of warmer temperatures come mid March. Plants and trees will re-bud within the next month and new leaves will emerge to replace those that have dropped. Our Spring fertilization provides everything that your plants need for recovery. Deep root injections are also an option to prevent decline and/or loss of your palms and trees.
Our team is available to you to help you with all of your landscape recovery this season. Please feel free to contact us should you have any additional concerns or questions regarding the state of your landscape.