And my plants felt it!
On the evening of October 25th, we received a drop in temperature around midnight, and it was only in the low 30’s around 6:00 am the next morning. In fact, when checking Timeanddate.com, it reported the lowest temperature at 32 °F on October 26 at 5:53 AM. That’s chilly. And my plants outdoors felt it.
So when I went outside around 8:00 am yesterday morning, it did not take long for me to realize I would need to go back into the house to get a felt hat, warm gloves, and heavy wool top to do my work of the day, which was taking down my big red banana plant in my large cement planter along with various elephant ears and Canna plants.
All of my tropical plants remaining outdoors were drooping downwards and heaped over from the effects of getting hit by their first frost of our autumn season. And other plants had white and feathery frost patterns on their leaves.
Some leaves looked as if dew had frozen in time. Tiny balls of clear ice could be seen on the undersides of the curled up leaves of elephant ears. This was the pretty side to the frost on some plants, perhaps the only pretty side. While other looked just horrible – particularly my tropical plants which can not survive below freezing temperatures.
They were all curled up, wilted over, and turned mushy overnight. Liquid within their plant cells froze into ice crystals and ruptured. This damages and kills the top part of the plant, but the underground storage organs, such as rhizomes and corms, can be stored over the winter. Unfortunately for tropical plants, they do not have a way to protect themselves to survive frost. However, their underground storage systems go into a semi-dormant state immediately, and can be moved to a cool but above freezing location over the winter inside the home.
Thus, it was definitely time for me to get the rest of my tropical plants stored for the winter season by digging up the underground storage organs or root balls and putting them away carefully. I could not put this process off any longer. It would take most of the day and I managed to get it all done.
Written by Cathy Testa
P.S. Stay tuned. I will be sharing ‘how to’ overwinter tropical plants, but in the meantime, visit my HOW TO VIDEOS page to see some tips and tricks.