How to Prepare Your Plants for Florida Winter Weather

bring container plants indoors to prepare plants for winter
Photo by vadim kaipov on Unsplash

Florida’s winter temperatures may get cold enough to damage tropical, subtropical, and even some temperate plants. Plants acclimate to weather through gradual decreases in temperature over time.  Knowing how to prepare your plants for winter will keep both your property and your wallet a lot greener and happier in the long run.

While proper care is necessary during the winter months, we’re fortunate to have a lot of options for our landscaping here in the Tampa Bay Area. Most residents can maintain at least subtropical plants year-round despite the varying weather conditions in Florida.

For instance, cold fronts move in during transition months, then poof, winters that were unseasonably warm suddenly aren’t.

How To Prepare Your Plants

Common Problems

The largest problem for plants in the winter is a lack of preparation. Homeowners themselves can winterize their landscaping, but a residential landscaping service is the best option for those looking for a higher level of protection for their plants. 

The fruit and roots are most vulnerable to cold damage—especially the roots of container plants. When you have tropical or subtropical plants in your landscaping, it is best to already have a plan for winterization around the time you initial plant your landscaping.

Some common problems that a Florida plant could experience in the winter include:

  • Leaf droop
  • Unsuitable plant selection
  • Fungus
  • Foliage burn
  • Improper placement

Potted plants are often more at risk for damage from the cold. Your landscaping is valuable. Winter care helps protect that value. Once these problems arise, it is much harder to mitigate them. 

Popular Methods to Prepare Your Plants in St. Petersburg

Homeowners in Florida that are particularly concerned about their plant life often reach out to a service that provides luxury residential landscaping.  This is especially true in St. Pete and the surrounding Tampa Bay Area.

Regardless of who is tending to your plants, there are several key actions to take that can protect your plants. 

Keep an eye on weather reports to better anticipate damage to your plants from cold conditions. When cold weather is coming, it is already time to act. 

Before the Freeze

The majority of the help you can give your plants in the winter will need to take place before a cold front hits. Preventative care goes further with landscaping than most reactionary care.

For plant preparation before the freeze you will want to: 

  • Determine which of your plants, including small trees and shrubs, are more susceptible to cold weather
  • Water your plants in the morning before the cold front
  • Ensure your plants have proper nutrition (they will be more resilient)
  • Determine which plants need to be covered
  • Consider windbreaks like fences or temporary structures

Professional landscapers will likely perform these tasks and more when hired throughout the winter season.  Check with your landscaper and asks what services they provide, if they offer same-day care, and whether or not they assist during emergency weather preparedness and after-care.

If you know that you need help bringing plants inside during frigid temperatures, be sure to have someone on call to assist you in moving your container plants. Same for the need to wrap, cover, or wind-block rooted shrubs and trees.

Homeowners considering a residential landscape service should look for a company that can maintain their plants throughout the winter if they are not interested in plant preparation themselves. 

Pro Tip: The care your plants receive before the freeze will have the greatest impact on their health the following spring. 

After the Freeze

After a freeze, the main concerns of homeowners should be watering and pruning effectively. Your plants are likely in a more fragile state than usual, so make sure to handle your plants with care.

Plants can lose a lot of water in the thawing process after a freeze. Rehydrate plants soon after thawing. 

You can perform some minor pruning initially after the freeze, but major pruning should be postponed until new growth emerges. Some winter damage is not immediately visible. 

Plants that look weak and do not bud in the spring were often damaged the previous winter. 

Hiring a Residential Landscaping Service

If you require a St. Petersburg landscaper, try scheduling before the winter freeze. Remember, damage prevention is key.

A personalized landscape care program is essential to keeping your lawn and landscape healthy, happy, and looking its best year-round. This is especially true in sporadically chill season. 

However you choose to tend to your landscape, the best way to care for your plants any time of year is with love, patience, and a little bend.

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