20 January 2013
Winter Casualties - 2013 Edition
I have to say that I've been experimenting with them a little - testing their cold-hardiness. When there's a definite freeze coming, I will schlepp them to safety, but if it's just mid-30s, I'll risk it. Most of my plants have held up well - some, like a night-blooming cactus, tropical palm, a few succulents, and a tuberous begonia, are in a protected place, but others, mostly the same types of plants, are out in the open. We've reached the mid- to high-30s and everything has been fine, except the begonia - the leaves and stems wilted, but overall I think it will recover. Even the peperomia did fine.
Sometimes this gives you a false sense of security - that one's plants are more hardy than you thought - but that can go wrong at any moment. The last freeze we had, I was maybe over-confident about our tropical hibiscuses surviving the freeze. Needless to say, they didn't - which I regret now, but I did do a scratch test* and it seemed to be alive. I just don't know when to expect it to come back to life.
(A scratch test is where you scratch the bark off woody plants with your fingernail. If it reveals a green color, then the plant is alive. If not, then it is likely dead.)
I have been taking special care of our poinsettia - I wrote before that I was determined to keep that plant alive and I have. I try to put it outside as much as possible, but I keep it inside when lows reach the 50s, which has been a lot lately. It needs to spend a little more time outside soon, but we have another cold front coming through. I'll try to give it what it needs without letting the cold get it, just like the rest of them.