Thursday, December 23, 2010

Surprising survivors

I try to keep detailed records each year about what survives during cold snaps and at what temperature.  This helps tremendously in subsequent years by letting me know what to protect if the temperature is supposed to drop to 30°F, which is an entirely different event than if the forecast is for 26°F.  Even so, after record lows early in December this year, and two consecutive nights at 26°, I was surprised by a few plants that weren't damaged even though I did nothing to protect them.
Schefflera is a large-leafed tropical that is usually hard-hit by freezing conditions.  A few of the stalks have turned black but many are still looking great.

Jacaranda usually defoliates during freezing temps but for now the fern-like leaves are still soaking up the sun.
My Mango tree was a pleasant surprise.  Just a few leaves at the top show a little brown.  I didn't get any fruit this year because of the hard freezes in January 2010, and I know winter is just starting, but I'm hoping  that the rest of the winter won't get any colder than we've already had.
The most amazing survivors are these Papaya seedlings.  They're under the canopy of a shade tree but otherwise got no protection from the 26° nights.
My 12-year-old Papaya out in the open just had the upper leaves nipped by frost and is still loaded with fruit.

There are lots of factors other than the low temperature that determine how much damage a freeze will cause.  Whether frost settles on the leaves makes a huge difference.  Wind speed and duration of the freezing temperatures can also mean the difference between life and death for tropical plants.  Still, some plants have shown they'll survive temps far below what you might expect!


Rohrerbot said...

You lucky gardener!! I can't believe the papaya survived! That's usually the first one that bites the dust during a frost event like we had in December. My Jacaranda are hanging in there just like yours....they were "burned" a bit. I don't know if it's just me, but when the jacaranda loses its' leaves, it gives off a scent....and I am embarrassed to admit that I look forward to the smell. Have you noticed it? Some tropicals surprise me like the bird of paradise....and it was a frost event that made all of our trees here lose their was actually quite lovely....fall in December.

Ali said...

Hey Grower Jim, I am in subtropical Brisbane, and in my yard are all those plants that you have here. How lovely that we share the same view on opposite sides of the world :)

We don't get a freeze here though (in Brisbane), we are fairly near to the coast. My parents live in the hinterland though and have a light frost most years.

Merry Christmas to you and your garden!

AaronVFT said...

You sure are lucky to have hardy plants like that. Hope the winter doesn't any get worse. We're more afraid of the scorching sun and crushing rains here....

Andrea said...

Hi Jim, it's incredible really for those plants to withstand the cold. I am amazed most especially for the mango, which i know prefers long and hot dry season. What is your mango variety? Maybe it has acclimatized so well in your conditions already. Here, only drought and typhoons are what our plants hate!

Food Forest said...

Dear Jim,

I live in Zone 5 of Northern, NY. I’d like to plant Paw Paw (Asimina) and also some Persimmon hybrids of Asian and American . Perhaps you’d recommend some varieties for my area and also a nursery that would ship to me? I don't know what your e-mail is or how to post mine without being vulnerable to spam. Maybe you could reply here?

Thanks for any advice you can give!

Grower Jim said...

Food Forest: A couple of possibilities are and They should be able to guide you in the right direction.

Food Forest said...

Thank you for the info, it's much appreciated and helped lead me to some answers. I apologize for jacking your thread! When I looked up TyTyGa, I found that it is not listed on on Which would indicate that this nursery is hiding from reviewers. Just wanted to share that so nobody ventures to that nursery without doing some research first. For anyone interested in PawPaw, I did come across this University website which then could be cross-referenced with the watchdog website. :) I have major zone envy looking at all your lovely tropicals Grower Jim!