Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Rare South Texas Freeze

In 1989, when the majority of our home landscape had turned to mush after a deep freeze, I swore off tropical plants!  But the past twenty years of temperate winters have made me a little bit lax when it comes to the cold-hardiness of plants I purchase.  

Don't get me wrong, I am not swearing off tropicals, but I do hope to remember to balance my cold-tender plant material with lots of hardy material!  What do you think about a 2/3 cold hardy to 1/3 tropical ratio?  Too much tropical?   What do you think, Meems?  We're in similar zones.   The variegated shell ginger, Apina, faces the north so we totally expected some damage.  But it looks like we will be trimming it all the way down to the ground this spring!   One cool thing is that there is a ginger aroma in the air around these plants this afternoon.   But, I hope this doesn't mean that there has been damage to the ginger rizomes.  I'm counting on it coming back from the roots this spring!One pleasant surprise was the cardboard palm, Zamia furfuracea.  This volunteer is surrounded by mushy oyster plant and a now completely defoliated Angel's Trumpet.   
Only time will tell what has been burned back and what has been killed off.  Here's to spring gardening!

18 comments:

Carol said...

I feel so bad for you all down south... we are use to this frigid temps ... I do hope your plants survive! Good Luck! Carol

FlowerLady said...

What a bummer seeing your freeze damaged plants! I haven't even gone out and looked this morning for fear of what I might see. I'll go out a little bit later to see. It got down to 30 and right now it is 32 and feels like it is 16.

Hope you receive no more damages and that everything survives this cold.

FlowerLady

Pam/Digging said...

It's a time of reckoning for Texas gardeners, isn't it? Sorry to hear about your losses, but I do expect your shell ginger to come back from the roots. In Austin ours die back each winter and come back in spring. But that's in a normal winter. Not sure what will happen to them after our temps in the mid-teens.

Tufa Girl said...

Do you folks have any place to get mulch for your flower beds? I have Chinese hibiscus in my yard and the ground is mulched with the neighbor's oak leaves and then blankets on top of that. I know I have lost the tops but I have hope they will return from the roots.

Mary Beth said...

CAROL - We are just getting a small taste of what our northern friends deal with each and every winter. I imagine most will recover.

FLOWER LADY - You must get freezing temps on a regular basis - do you? This afternoon the aroma of dill filled the air as the dill in the herb beds is melting. . . .

PAM - I was happy to see that shell ginger is hardy to zone 8a - Does your give off a ginger smell when it freezes down?

TURFA GIRL - I have hopes that the roots have survived. They ARE well-mulched. Ironically, my husband was sharing that citrus growers keep the soil in their fields clean and bare because studies have shown that the bare ground gives off more heat than ground with a green or dry cover.

Pam/Digging said...

I haven't smelled the ginger, Mary Beth, but Diana at Sharing Nature's Garden reports it.

The Rainforest Gardener said...

Your gingers look a lot like mine... southern fried and crispy. About your 2/3 ratio, I'm personally choosing hardy canopy trees like bottlebrush, loquat and tabebuia since they still have the tropical look, and then use mid-story plants like Dahoon holly, Everglades palms and treeferns that end up protecting the more tropical understory plants such as gingers, firespike, philodendrons, monstera, etc. I try to make sure that all of these are root hardy so that I don't lose anything in a worst case scenario. Eventually I plan on planting a groundcover to frame it and provide winter interest, such as liriope. I'm glad your cardboard palm made it! People around here plant them out in the open and they get fried every year, but still come back in spring.

Mary Beth said...

RAINFOREST GARDENER - I like your suggestion about cold-hardy upper story plantings. As plants have gotten crispier (now 10 days since 25 degree temps), I think 1/3 tender tropicals is just way too much! Most will probably grow back from the roots, but that means the landscape looks pretty barren until May. I've been wanting to add an Everglades palm or two and am glad to hear it is hardy in Jacksonville.

The Rainforest Gardener said...

It sure is! That was one of the plants that was untouched by the cold, and the slender arching stems of the mature plant are very tropical looking.

Annie in Austin said...

Sorry to see that cold weather reached to your part of Texas, too, Mary Beth - it was discouraging to see stuff that handled the heat and drought so well be frozen! I hope many of your plants can recover.

My Shell ginger is in a big pot in the garage this year but it's been left out other years, froze, and as Pam said, resprouted from the roots. This will be an interesting spring - got to 13°F in my garden.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Barbara said...

I understand losing plants and I live half way between Houston and Dallas, by 2 snows in one year...no global warming here.

Sorry about your plants, I am a poor one to advise you.

Barbara

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