Ensuring the Survival of Sensitive Plants in Northeast Florida’s Cooler Climates

Northeast Florida, with its unique climatic conditions, presents distinct challenges for gardeners, particularly when it comes to the cultivation of sensitive tropical plants, palms, and citrus varieties. As temperatures dip in the cooler months, understanding and managing the cold tolerance of these plants is crucial for maintaining a vibrant and thriving garden. This guide aims to assist gardeners in the Jacksonville, Florida area in safeguarding their sensitive plants from the threats of colder weather.

Understanding Plant Hardiness Zones


A fundamental aspect of gardening in Northeast Florida, particularly in areas like Jacksonville, is understanding the USDA Hardiness Zone of the region. Classified as Zone 9a, this area experiences temperatures that can drop to 20-25°F. Selecting plants that can endure these minimum temperatures is vital to prevent cold damage.

Tropical Plants and Their Cold Sensitivity

Many tropical plants enhance Northeast Florida landscapes, but their sensitivity to cold necessitates extra care during the winter. Important tropical species include:


These plants are celebrated for their large, vibrant blooms but are susceptible to frost damage. Cover lightly in a mild frost. Double up your frost cloth in a hard freeze.


Tropical ginger varieties require protection from the cold to preserve their lush foliage. Shell ginger can freeze back and come back from the gound. Cover if you would like to keep it from dying all the wayback.


Cherished for their colorful leaves, they struggle in cooler temperatures. They can come back from the ground after a freeze but protecting them will help minimize the damage to the leaves.


This dwarf variety of philodendron needs shelter from freezing conditions.


Known for their striking multi-colored leaves, crotons are truly tropical. They are sensitive to cold drafts and can take damage under 40 degrees. It is best if you can bring them indoor.


Prized for their attractive leaves, stromanthe plants definietly require frost protection.

Other Plants to Protect in a Freeze

Arboricola: Often used for hedges, they can suffer in cold weather.

Ixora: Popular for their bright flowers, ixoras are vulnerable to chilling temperatures.

Bird of Paradise: Recognized for their exotic flowers, these plants do not tolerate cold well.

Desert Rose: This succulent plant is sensitive to cold and requires protection from frost.

Crown of Thorns: While somewhat hardy, they prefer warmer temperatures and can be damaged by cold.

Mandevilla: Known for their climbing habit and showy flowers, Mandevilla plants are susceptible to cold damage.

Understanding Frost vs. Freeze: Impact on Plants

What's the Difference?

  • Frost occurs when water vapor in the air near the ground freezes, forming ice crystals on surfaces. This usually happens when temperatures are just below freezing (32°F or 0°C).
  • Freeze is when the air temperature drops below freezing, causing water inside plant cells to freeze. This often occurs at temperatures well below 32°F (0°C).

Effects on Plants

  • Frost Impact:
  • It can damage or kill tender plants.
  • Forms ice crystals on plant surfaces, potentially harming external tissues.
  • Plants may recover if the frost is light and short-lived.
  • Freeze Impact:
  • More severe, affecting both external and internal tissues.
  • It can cause cells to burst, leading to extensive damage.
  • Recovery is less likely, especially for tender plants.

Protection Tips:

  • Cover plants during frost warnings.
  • Water plants before a freeze to insulate roots.
  • Bring potted plants indoors if possible.

Stay informed and protect your garden accordingly!

For more information on cold sensitive PALMS & CITRUS Read the full article

Strategies for Cold Protection

One of the most effective measures is the use of freeze cloth or frost blankets. These specially designed cloths are draped over plants to insulate them from the cold, while still allowing air and moisture to reach the foliage. Unlike plastic covers, which can trap excessive moisture and lead to fungal diseases, freeze cloths provide a breathable yet protective barrier against frost.

It’s important to cover the plants before sunset to retain residual heat and extend the cloth all the way to the ground to trap heat more effectively. Additionally, ensure that the cloth is secured to prevent it from being blown away by the wind.

Other steps include watering the plants before a freeze, as moist soil retains heat better than dry soil, and using mulch to insulate the roots.

For potted plants, moving them indoors or to a sheltered area can offer significant protection.

Implementing these basic yet essential freeze protection steps can greatly enhance the survivability of sensitive plants during cold snaps.

Additional effective strategies to protect sensitive plants from cold include:

  1. Understanding Chilling Temperatures: Temperatures between 32°F and 59°F can stress tropical plants, leading to wilting, yellowing, and reddish-brown spots.
  2. Location and Exposure: Planting sensitive species away from areas with northern exposure and using hardier plants as windbreaks can provide additional protection.
  3. Acclimation Processes: Plants start acclimating in autumn as daylight hours decrease. Understanding this natural process helps in preparing plants for the cold.
  4. Overwintering and Indoor Propagation: Consider relocating highly sensitive plants indoors or to greenhouses as temperatures drop.
  5. Post-Chill Care: After chill exposure, ensure plants are adequately watered and avoid immediate fertilization to reduce stress.

Maintaining a lush garden in Northeast Florida’s cooler climate requires an in-depth understanding of the cold tolerance of various plant species. By recognizing the needs of sensitive tropical plants, palms, and citrus trees and employing effective cold protection strategies, gardeners can ensure the survival and flourishing of their gardens through the chillier months. With proper planning and care, the diverse and vibrant flora of Northeast Florida


Backyard Bliss in E-Town: Chic Border Wall &

Secret Hot Tub Hideaway!

Step into our E-Town backyard makeover that's all the buzz in North East Florida! 🌴✨ We've built a chic border wall for standout curb appeal and nestled a hot tub behind a lush privacy hedge for those cozy evenings under the stars. Our Earthworks team is passionate about turning your outdoor space into a slice of paradise.

Creating a Serene Winter Wonderland with our

'Winter Whites' recipe!

Embrace the serene beauty of the season with our enchanting 'Winter Whites' container garden recipe. This composition features a harmonious blend of thrillers like the elegant Morning Glow Camellia and the striking Blue Flax Lily. The fillers, including Dusty Miller and Flowering Kale, add texture and depth to this winter wonderland. Watch as the graceful Licorice plant and the delicate White Vista Supertunias spill over the edges, creating a cascading, snow-like effect. Alyssum Snow Princess provides the finishing touch with its delicate blooms, making our 'Winter Whites' combo the perfect addition to your winter garden oasis.

  1. Morning Glow Camellia Japonica dazzles with abundant, large, formal double flowers. Its pristine white petals, slightly cupped, create a stunning display from mid-winter through spring.
  2. Variegated Flax Lily brightens the landscape with its bold, creamy stripes on broad strap leaves. This strap leaf accent plant can be used as a single specimen plant or in more extensive mass plantings.
  3. Dusty Miller, a versatile foliage plant, enhances sunny gardens, containers, and borders. Its silvery leaves contrast beautifully with darker flowers and complement shades of pink, magenta, and violet blooms.
  4. Supertunia Vista Snowdrift, a Proven Winners petunia hybrid, boasts year-round bright white blooms. Growing up to 24 inches tall with a 2-3 feet spread, it's a favorite of butterflies and hummingbirds.
  5. Alyssum Snow Princess is a compact, low-growing annual plant with a rounded, spreading shape. It continuously produces small, white, aromatic flowers throughout the season. This robust plant flourishes in varying temperatures and is ideal for hanging baskets due to its prolific and sweet-smelling blossoms.
  6. Flowering kale, known for its vibrant ruffled foliage in shades of pink, purple, and red, is a striking yet simple-to-cultivate choice for pots and garden plots. They flourish in cooler climates and remain resilient against mild frost, maintaining their beauty in winter in warmer regions.
  7. Licorice Plant, a perennial evergreen in frost-free areas, features trailing stems with soft, round, silver-grey velvety leaves. It's heat and drought-resistant and perfect for hanging baskets, garden beds, borders, and window boxes
Shop this Recipe


Brown Patch is Still Out There!!

On a recent stroll through a nearby neighborhood, I saw roughly one in every four lawns showing unsightly brown patches. These signs of distress indicate a common adversary in lawn care: brown patch lawn fungus. This fungus affects the aesthetic appeal of a lawn and its health and vitality.

Brown Patch Lawn Fungus: Identification and Impact

Brown patch is a fungus that typically emerges in late spring or early summer, flourishing in warm, humid weather. With our unusually wet fall, it has reared its ugly.

It's identifiable by circular brown, dead grass patches, often surrounded by a darker, sometimes grayish ring. These patches can range from a few inches to several feet in diameter and are particularly aggressive in lawns with excessive moisture and nitrogen.

The damage is aesthetic but can weaken the lawn, making it more susceptible to other stresses.

Treatment and Prevention

  1. Proper Identification: Ensure the issue is a brown patch. Other diseases or environmental factors can cause similar symptoms.
  2. Cultural Practices: Modify lawn care practices to reduce favorable conditions for the fungus. This includes avoiding evening watering (to reduce nighttime moisture), improving soil drainage, and maintaining a balanced fertilization schedule to avoid excessive nitrogen.
  3. Fungicide Application: Fungicide treatments may be necessary for severe cases or lawns historically prone to brown patches. Products containing azoxystrobin, pyraclostrobin, or propiconazole are commonly used. Following the manufacturer's instructions for application rates and frequency is crucial.
  4. Regular Lawn Maintenance: Regular mowing, aerating, and dethatching can help prevent conditions that favor the growth of brown patches. Ensuring your lawn is healthy and not stressed by other factors also reduces susceptibility.

If you're unsure about treating brown patches, alerting your lawn care company is wise. Professional lawn care providers can accurately diagnose the problem and apply appropriate treatments. They can also advise on long-term prevention strategies and develop a customized lawn care program.

In conclusion, while brown patch is a common and unsightly lawn problem, it can be managed with the right approach. By combining proper cultural practices with targeted treatments, you can maintain the health and beauty of your lawn, ensuring that your stroll through the neighborhood is a visually pleasing experience.


It's Getting Cold Out There!

What Pond Owners Should Know

Shop Cold Water Koi Food


Let's create a season filled with love, compassion, and community magic together.

In the heart of Jacksonville, 60% of Springfield's children regularly experience food shortages before month-end. The Sanctuary on 8th Street serves as a vital refuge, offering academic support, engaging activities, homework assistance, and nourishing snacks. Earth Works proudly supports its mission.

This December, 20% of every Earth Works gift card purchase directly aids the Sanctuary on 8th Street. Your choice to buy an Earth Works gift card resonates deeply in a community where these challenges are an everyday reality. The Sanctuary on 8th Street is more than a place; it's a lifeline for downtown Jacksonville's youth.

Give the gift of beauty and hope this holiday season. Purchase a gift card today!

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Earth Works Gardens | earthworksjax.com |996-0712 | 12501 Beach Blvd.