TAMPA BAY, Fla. -
Freezing temperatures are expected throughout a good portion of the Tampa Bay area this week.
Many homeowners and farmers will wind up scrambling to protect their tender landscapes, potted plants and crops.
Generally speaking, the minimum freezing temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit is not a good thing. But four hours of 28 degrees or below can spell disaster for the hardiest of tropical vegetation and crops. Tender, soft-stemmed plants, including many ornamentals, are most vulnerable.
What steps can you take to protect your plants?
Dewayne L. Ingram and Thomas H. Yeager
of the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Services offer some fairly comprehensive advice:
Winter temperatures in Florida are frequently low enough to cause cold injury to tropical, subtropical, and occasionally temperate plants not adapted to Florida climatic conditions.
Tropical plants and summer annuals do not adapt or harden to withstand temperatures below freezing and many are injured by temperatures below 50°F (10°C).
Subtropical plants can harden or acclimate (become accustomed to a new climate) to withstand freezing temperatures and properly conditioned temperate plants can withstand temperatures substantially below freezing.
Freezing conditions occur annually in north and central Florida, while below freezing temperatures are rare for south Florida. Freeze probabilities for various locations in Florida are published in IFAS Bulletin 777, Freeze Probabilities in Florida .
Ingram and Yeager offer valuable information on protecting your ornamentals here:
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