Whether you’re tending to your outdoor tropicals or planning on bringing them indoors for the winter, it’s important to know how to care for them during the cold season properly. Proper winter care for tropicals in Fort Lauderdale can help prevent damage, pests, and weak, leggy growth. Follow this guide to make sure all your beautiful tropicals survive the winter unscathed!
Winter Care for Outdoor Tropicals in Fort Lauderdale
Luckily, freezing weather is almost unheard of in Fort Lauderdale during winter, so the cold season care requirements aren’t too difficult. However, December and January can bring cold spells that may stress out your plants. What starts as heavy winds turns into heavy rain, followed by even more wind. Go through these steps to protect your tropicals from winter damage!
Protect Plants from Northwest Winds
The coldest winds tend to come from the North and West, bringing with them big rainstorms. Once the rain stops and the winds continue, this can dry out your plants and cause cold-stress. Using protective wraps for your plants or installing a windbreak is helpful. Plants facing the South or East side of your property are less susceptible to cold stress because your home acts as a windbreak.
Topdress with Compost
Healthy plants are less vulnerable to cold damage, and compost is a great way to provide nutrients without overfertilizing. Topdressing also helps to insulate the soil, keeping temperature and moisture levels more consistent.
Scale Back On Fertilizing Until Spring
Fertilizing in winter can stimulate new growth during the period where they should be in dormancy. If they don’t get the chance to rest for the season, their new growth will be weak and more susceptible to damage. If you’ve got tropicals that are especially heavy feeders and require a lot of fertilizer, then you should still significantly reduce the amount you fertilize.
Water Deeply if Cold Weather Is On the Way
If the forecast calls for a cold spell, water your tropicals early in the morning. This helps to insulate the soil and protect your plants’ roots.
Wait Until Spring to Prune Damaged Material
Pruning can stimulate new growth, and you don’t want new growth during winter. Wait until the first signs of new growth in spring, and then grab your pruning shears to remove any brown bits and dead, diseased, or damaged parts.
How to Care for Tropicals Indoors in the Winter
Some container-grown tropicals like Angel’s Trumpet, Croton, Mandevilla, and Hibiscus do well if you bring them inside for the winter. However, before you bring them in with your other plants, make sure to go through these steps!
Rinse and Debug Your Tropicals
Give all your tropicals a good rinse with the hose on a gentle setting to blast away hidden bugs. Then, follow up with an all-natural insecticide like neem oil, insecticidal soap, or pyrethrin spray. Keep your tropicals in a different room from your other houseplants for one week before reintroducing them—this helps prevent any surviving bugs from spreading.
Keep Them Away from Drafts
Drafts from vents—whether they’re hot or cold—are no good for your tropicals! Keep them away from drafts and try your best to keep the temperature of their environment consistent.
Place Them Somewhere Brightly Lit
Your tropicals are used to getting plenty of bright sunshine outdoors, so you need to make sure they’re getting enough rays indoors. South and West-facing windows tend to be the brightest!
Stop Fertilizing Until Spring
No need to fertilize your tropicals over winter—that’s their time to go into dormancy. If they lose a few leaves and aren’t blooming, don’t stress! That’s a natural part of their seasonal cycle.
Your plants don’t need as much water when they’re in dormancy, and overwatering can lead to root rot. Allow the top few inches of soil to dry out before you water again—some may only need to be watered once per month.
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