Cover tender plants with blankets, quilts or a mattress pad. If you will be using a plastic tarp, you will need to construct a frame around the plant to keep the plastic away from the foliage. If the cold front is forecasted to be windy, you will want to secure the covering so that it can’t blow away.
Make sure that all of your tender, tropical plants have a thick layer of mulch, up to 4 inches deep, to protect the root system.
Move containerized plants into the garage or house. If they must stay outside, move them together and cover the entire group with blankets or quilts.
If a hard freeze, temperatures at 30 degrees or below, is forecast you can also place a light bulb or Christmas lights underneath the cover. LED bulbs will not work for this because they don’t produce any heat. Make sure that none of the hot bulbs will come into contact with the blanket, quilt, tarp, etc.
With the shorter days and cooler temperatures, you won’t need to do much for your turf. Just mow it every other week or so and water it, at most, once a week. Do not fertilize the turf in the winter because the grass isn’t actively growing and therefore won’t absorb the nutrients. Fertilizing in the winter can lead to nutrients leaching into the nearest body of water.
Deciduous trees and shrubs can be pruned after they have shed all of their leaves. Meanwhile take advantage of the weather to enjoy your garden.
WHAT TO PLANT NOW
Annuals/Bedding plants: Plants that can be added to the garden during the coolest months include alyssum, begonia, browallia, lobelia, dianthus, dusty miller, pansy, petunia, viola, snapdragon, and nicotiana. See Annuals
Bulbs: Winter is a great time to plant bulbs that will bloom in the spring. Some examples include Clivia lily, crinum, gloriosa lily, and agapanthus. Provide a layer of mulch to protect bulbs from cold temperatures. See Bulbs for Florida
Herbs: Many herbs will thrive now that temperatures are cooler, including garlic chives, chives, lemon grass (plant this aggressive grower in a large pot), parsley, dill, rosemary, Mexican tarragon, fennel, any of the mints, thyme, lemon balm, Greek oregano, salad burnet, lavenders, chervil (a winter annual that has a licorice flavor) See Herbs
Vegetables: Many vegetables can be planted this time of year. Start with quality seeds purchased from an online catalog. This the last month to plant Irish potatoes, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, lettuce, mustard, and turnips. See Vegetable Gardening in Florida
WHST TO DO
Landscape: It is a good time to plant woody shrubs. Water frequently to get new plantings off to a good start. See The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection and Landscape Design and Shrubs:
Citrus Care (also good for most trees)
Spray both sides of leaves avoiding peak daily temperature:
1. Spray citrus trees with Epsoma Citrus Tone or Sunniland Citrus
2. Spray before trees blossom with a citrus nutritional spray, which has micronutrients.
3. Spray once a month or so with Maxicrop, the liquid seaweed emulsion available at most Ace hardware stores. 4. To avoid disease spray with liquid Copper Fungicide
5. Shrubs – apply Epsoma plant tone or Holly Tone [for acidic plants]
Deciduous fruit: Plant deciduous fruit trees now to give their roots time to develop before the warm, dry spring months. Prune and fertilize existing trees. See Temperate Fruit for the Home Landscape
Irrigation: Water plants if temperatures remain higher than normal and rainfall is scarce. See Landscape Irrigation
Shrubs and trees: Prune non-spring flowering shrubs and trees this month to improve form. See Pruning Landscape Trees and Shrubs
Arbor Day: Celebrate Florida Arbor Day (the 3rd Friday of January) by planting a tree in your yard or community. See Arbor Day in Florida
Crapemyrtle: Remove seed pods, crossing branches, and small twiggy growth to improve the appearance and form of the plant, if desired. Hard pruning is not required. See Crapemyrtle
Cold protection: Be ready to cover tender plants to minimize damage and be sure covers extend all the way to the ground. Frost or freezes are likely this month and next. Bring sensitive plants like orchids inside if a frost or freeze is predicted. Thoroughly water and cover sensitive plants in the landscape 12–24 hours before a freeze. See Cold Protection and Chilling Damage of Landscape Plants
Pests: Apply horticultural oil to citrus, shrubs, and deciduous fruit trees while plants are dormant to control scale. Apply copper spray to mangos after bloom. See Landscape Pest Management
Last but not least: Don’t forget to spray a fine mist of liquid seaweed solution on both sides of the leaves on vegetable plants, citrus and avocado trees weekly. For other fruit- producing trees, shrubs and vines aim for every other week.