Nurseries bracing for cold in South Florida; Protecting plants during brief cold snap

WABASSO, Fla. - If you get cold, you can go inside, turn on the heater, or add another layer.

But your plants can't.  At many Treasure Coast nurseries Monday, they've been rolling out the freeze cloth to protect their plants.

Even with 7 acres and thousands of plants, Brad Benson of Rock City Gardens in Wabasso doesn't want to lose any inventory.

"Temps in the low 40s, 30s.  Always cause for alarm," Benson said.

Benson says the more tropical the plant, the more cold sensitive it is. "You also want to make sure your plants are hydrated.  They're less susceptible to cold damage when they're hydrated and covered," said Benson.

But Benson says don't assume that means you can use a blanket. "You want to stay away from blankets or anything that is heavy that will put weight on the foliage.  That will do more harm than good." 

A light sheet that breathes will work says Benson, who moved a lot of his tropical plants into one of their greenhouses.  Not  every plant will get covered up.

"Geraniums, camellias, azaleas generally aren't plans that are cause for alarm.  Generally you want to focus on the tropicals.  When in doubt if you're not sure, just cover it up," said Benson.

Or bring it in.  Benson says just a few hours in the cold can do enough frost damage to kill a plant, or at least set it back quite a bit in its growth cycle.

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