Saturday, February 5, 2011

Damage Assessment

It finally warmed up into the 50's today and I went out and unzipped the Greenhouse fearing the worst. The temps had been in the teens the past several days and the coldest day was not only plagued by bone chilling wind chills of at or below zero, but rolling blackouts. My little greenhouse is warmed by a heat lamp and when the power goes out, there is no heat. The rolling blackout occurred every couple hours lasting 30 minutes a piece on average. I was sure I had lost some of my plants.

I unzipped the greenhouse and what did I see? Green things! Not brown! The plants had survived:

The key lime, the palm, and the hibiscus all suffered a little frost damage to the tips. I just cut those parts off. The hibiscus did lose a few more leaves than the others, but otherwise it made it through OK.

The petunias, dianthus, and cyclamen look wonderful! Not a yellow, brown, or mushy leaf to be found.

The geraniums were closest to the edge of the greenhouse and the side of the pots that faced the edge were fried pretty good and mushy. These were pretty scraggly before the freeze anyway as I had them hanging outside most of the winter, so I just cut them back and they will make a full recovery come warm weather. The bougainvillea looks the worst. They lost almost all their leaves and blooms, but the wood is still green inside, so these will recover. I stored them in the garage last year with the same results. I was hoping the greenhouse would keep them leafy - which it did until we had Arctic wind chills of zero and rolling blackouts (ERCOT is SO not on my friend list this year):

I'm not sure what the temps dropped to in the greenhouse but it must have been very near or at freezing for a short amount of time (likely when the power kept going out). I think next year I will put 2 heat lamps in there instead of one so I can have extra heat if the temps dip into the teens for a long period of time. It's my first year with the pop-up greenhouse and overall, I am quite pleased. It's not the greenhouse's fault that the power kept going out on the very coldest day of the year. (I'm looking at you ERCOT).

Out in the yard, the agaves show cold damage. This is the first time I have witnessed this level of frost damage on the agaves:

The bulbine is complete mush and I'm sure I will have to replace it. I had to replace these after last year's week of record cold as well as they did not recover:

The globemallow carried through the cold with no problem at all! I thought for sure I would lose it. I didn't realize they were quite so hardy. This was a new planting of mine from last spring. I am really excited it survived so easily:

The windmill palm also shrugged off the freezing temps and wind chills. I picked it because I knew they were one of the most cold hardy palms out there and I wanted it to stay green all winter unlike all the neighbors' texas sabal palms that always seem to have brown fried palm fronds during the winter. I admit I was getting a little bit worried about my windmill palm when the wind chills were so cold as the fronds turned a blue-ish color, but once it warmed up, the fronds returned to their normal green and it is looking no worse for the wear:

In the entryway my philodendrons are looking awful. The one closest inside the entry will be fine and still has some green leaves, but the one on the outside looks really bad. This is the same result I had last year during our week long January deep-freeze and the philodendrons did recover, so I'm really not too worried about these guys. They will bounce back once it gets warm again:

Other items of note:

The abutilon in the entryway also lost all it's leaves - this is the first time I have ever had that happen. I really hope it will come back.

The Sagos are still covered - it is supposed to freeze down into the mid-lower 20's again later this week, so I am electing to just leave them covered. I did peek under their cover though, and they look to be green, so I think they will pull through.

I also have not removed the cover from the new senna I bought last year. I will wait another week to remove it to protect against the cold nights to come.

Isn't it about time for Spring? I've about had it with this Winter's crazy weather.


The Younger Rachael said...

I had a bougainvillea while living in East Asia. Every winter it would lose all its leaves, and go dormant, but bloomed beautifully every summer. I had it indoors, so it never froze, even if the inside got down into the low 40s. They might be tropical plants, they are rather tough.

hosedragger said...

Found your blog while I was looking for other gardeners who would sympathize with me in my annoyance with ERCOT. I too heat my greenhouse with heat lamps, and their lack of notice re the blackouts did some damage. But, like you--I was happily surprised that the damage was so limited. I'm ready for spring too!