The weekend that was and what lies ahead

Sunday, January 10, 2010

For plants, pets and plant lovers, it was a weekend of stress.  Trying to get the floodlights and heaters set up in cold drizzle was a challenge.  Now comes the next event: helping the garden recover, if we're lucky.

If palm fronds turn brown, remove them. However, if only part of the frond is brown, remove that part and allow the green to stay in place. All available green is needed for photosynthesis. The same is true for fronds with brown spots of cold damage. Get out the copper fungicide (Kocide) and mix 2 teaspoons per gallon of water.  Pour this into the growing point – where the spear emerges. Then repeat in 10 days. Copper fights both fungus and bacteria.  Don’t use copper more than twice, however, as it may be toxic in excess.Use a micronutrient spray on the fronds once a month until summer. When temperatures warm up in spring, lightly fertilize.

Leaves on tender ornamental plants will show damage, both now and in the weeks ahead. Shrubs may manifest the damage later. Allow the damaged leaves to remain as they will protect other leaves in future cold snaps. New buds eventually will tell you where healthy twigs remain. When new buds begin sprouting later in the year and you want to prune dead branch ends, count back three new buds and make the cut at that spot to avoid distorted foliage.

Since we had a full day of cold rain on Saturday, landscape plants probably have sufficient moisture today. However, you’ll want to monitor this situation as temperatures climb. Watch for wilt, but water lightly.

Cold bent the leaf stems and
caused water-soaked areas on
this Philodendron McDowell.

Aroids, such as more tropical elephant ears, are likely to complain about the weather by bending those big stems, turning leaves yellow or showing water-soaked areas in the leaves. Use a fungicide spray, but be careful about over-watering. Roots on these plants can lose their ability to take up water rapidly and if sitting in wet soil, they can be hit by rot. Monthly micronutrient sprays will help ornamental plants recover.

Vanda orchids are likely to drop lower leaves as a result of cold, particularly after exposure to the high winds that pummeled us. Mix 1 tablespoon of Kocide with 1 tablespoon of Dithane M-45 in a gallon of water and spray them. Cattleya orchids are better able to withstand cold, but the chilling effect of the winds on these and all other orchids will likely result in slower growth ahead. 

Orchids kept inside are much better off. However, don’t forget that humidity is a lot lower inside, especially if you are running the heat. So mist the roots daily while they’re being protected from the elements.

Considering all the bluff and blowing that went on over the last two days, many plants are looking surprisingly all right. For now.