Many gardeners were surprised when they woke up to frost on rooftops and some of their plants during December.. It may have appeared a bit thick in certain locations - almost like snow. But don't worry it did not snow here - just at the Florida border. But, some plants may not like this cool weather treatment.
Lawns with that frosty coating are likely to turn brown. But it is also interesting many take on a checkerboard look with spots of green and brown creating this unique pattern as pictured. It will certainly set zoysia lawns into a winter dormancy from which they will likely not awaken until spring. These lawns normally stop growth during the cooler weather and no special care is needed. The cold will also slow or cease the growth of centipede and bahia lawns too. Only St. Augustine and bermuda lawns are likely to continue on, producing new green leaves during the warmer winter days. Actually these lawns seem to like growing any time temperatures are warmish to fill in bare spots and renew the green.
All lawns should be moist but not wet during the cooler months. Irrigation is needed about once a week for growing lawns and less when the turf is dormant. No fertilizer is required at this time. Do keep mowing as needed. Mowing helps maintain a uniform look and may control weeds too. Blades should be kept at the normal height and sharp. Mowing is best done every week or two.
Where frost blankets were not pulled over warm season vegetables like tomatoes and peppers, some cold damage may be noted. This is normally a bronzing to browning of the leaves. If the frost was minimal or of limited duration the plants usually recover and produce new growth. Where frost was heavy and lingered this crop may be lost. But don't worry there are many cold resistant cool season crops to plant at this time.
Even with the cold and some plant damage, we have to remember this chilly weather is good for many landscape ornamentals and garden crops. Some say a frost makes the collards sweeter. Chilly weather is necessary for good radish, beet, cabbage and broccoli growth too. Plants like roses, petunias, pansies and dianthus grow best when the weather is cool. Many trees and shrubs need the cold to encourage dormancy during which leaf and flower buds mature in preparation for spring growth.
Get to know which of your plants like the cold and which are going to need protection. You don't have to be concerned about all the plants in your landscape - just the more tropical ones.