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Thread: When The Cold Front Find It's Way Inside

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    When The Cold Front Find It's Way Inside

    Or When Neighbor Goof!

    A couple of weeks ago I let my house neighbor use my washer and dryer while she was waiting on hers to be repaired. No biggie, neighbor's do that for one another.

    Well sometime yesterday she finally got around to retrieving her laundry products from my side of the basement and inadvertently left my basement door open as well as the main basement door and the back door. We're inthe middle of a major cold front, thing Siberian Express, high winds, the whole nine yards.

    Now I don't know why I decided to go out back, but it's a good thing I did as that is when I found all the doors open and the wind being tunneled right down the steps and into my basement and hence plant room. The fan was on, as I keep it on to keep air circulating and to help keep the temps relatively uniform throughtout the plant area. I was beginning to feel sick before I even got down the steps.

    Plants right next to the door were damaged, with 2/3 or better on my oldest Tropical Hibiscus having it's foliage frozen or severely damaged, the Pineapple Scented Geranium sadly wilting. One of the Spathphyllims on the floor in front of the water heater has half of it's leaves frozen. Plant on the bottom shelves do not look too good. Orchid foliage looks to have been frozen, my one bromeliad had frozen areas on it. One of several small "spider plants" that had summered in the garden and were looking so wonderful was mush. In all there were at least a dozen plants with definite cold damage.

    What I found odd was some that I thought would have suffered the most, didn't appear to have any damage at all. The Succulents and my one variegated Hoya and the Palms are seemingly o-kay. Some of the Lantana don't look happy, but they can be pruned back and will be fine.

    The big Clivia is unscathed, yet the variegated tropical Hibiscus and two others farther away from it are all drooping.

    I'm upset about the plants being damaged, but most (except perhaps the Dendrobium Orchids) will eventually come out of it. Some that were wilted so badly were also dry, so perhaps that will have saved them from serious damage, but they aren't coming back very quickly. I'll check them again tomorrow and take my pruners with me to cut back the ones I can. I'm upset with my neighbor's caarelessness, but can't say I am really mad at her, but I haven't spoken with her yet so will see what she has to say tomorrow. Hopefully she will at least apologize.

    If any good comes of this I hope the cold killed the spider mites and aphids that had attached my hibiscus seedlings.

    The daylily seedlings weren't phased a bit by it! In fact, they probably enjoyed it!

    The fan is off for now and I may turn it around 180 degrees before I turn it back on.

    I may see if I have a big enough piece of wood I can nail up as a kind of baffle to keep cold air off of the plants right next to the door. The piece that would be just about perfect is what I have raised up on blocks that these plants are sitting on so they aren't on the cold floor, which would be even harder on them.

    Why am I telling all y'all about this? As a warning to others for one and to show that plants are all a lot tougher than we sometimes give them credit for. Those orchids haven't been doing well for years, so no great loss there, and they may come out of it. Nothing important was lost, even the "spider plant" that was turned to mush will probably come back from the crown, and the stems on the two sun coleus seemed to be firm, so they could come back as well. Time will tell.

    I am a little miffed at myself for not getting down to the basement sooner and perhaps avoiding the problem altogether.


    Don't you just love winter.
    Nature is trying very hard to make us succeed, but nature does not depend on us. We are not the only experiment.
    - R. Buckminster Fuller

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
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    Zone 9a - Gulf Coast
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    Rebecca,

    That is so very sad...

    Your spider plant will be okay. Mine has survived in the ground and in a hanging pot, sitting on the ground.

    Hopefully, everything will be fine and your loss will be minimal.

    Nice that your hoyas made it. I would have thought that these would be very sensitive. But then again, I have never taken the chance.

    Keep us posted! We can learn a lot from you about this experience, and maybe some of us can help out with your losses by sending cuttings.
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


  3. #3
    Join Date
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    I've been down checking the cold damage and the worst has bee to my 25 year old Tropical Hibiscus. All but a few growing tips were totally lost. One longish "branch", complete with a bud, remain pretty much undamaged, except for a little frost bite on the edges. I've trimmed it back some, but will pretty much leave it to it's own devices. The Tropical Hibiscus can take a good deal of cold, even to the point of having it's leaves frosted back and still be o-kay, as long as there wasn't any extensive root damage. Since I tend to maintain them a little on the dry side over winter, the root system should be o-kay. It will take it awile to recover, but it will recover.

    The Variegated Tropical Hibiscus has minimal cold damage and only needs a good pruning to shape it up and it's needed that since I brought it in but since it had been blooming I hadn't pruned it back yet. I may try to root some of the better cuttings.

    The other Hibiscus that were wilted looking have come out of their slump. One does need to be pruned and have some minor damage removed. Of course I do need to severely prun back all of the seedlings due to the insect damage, but not due to cold damage. I have been looking for live aphids and haven't seen any, yet. Eggs will probably have survived so I will have to treat all of the plants for insect infestation, but now as a preventative.

    The Bromeliad lost a couple of pups, but the side away from the cold seems to be o-kay and it will put out more pups.

    The biggest of the Min-Dendrobium Orchids is pretty much gone. As long as the pseudo-bulbs stay firm it could generate new growth, a smaller plant may not be so lucky. Yet others (2) on the same shelf look to be o-kay, not that they were growing all that well to begin with. They are not getting enough light to really do well, and that is also why I can't get them to bloom for me.

    Found a few spider-lettes on another one of the small spider plants that was damaged, but the mother plant is fine. I have/had four of them, so no great loss there.

    The Night Blooming Jasmine was one of two plants right next to the door that got the worst of it. I trimmed it back the other day and watered it and it seems to be doing o-kay. This plant is prone to soft-bodied scale, so hopefully the cold took care of that.

    I had one of my stag horn ferns sitting it a tub of water, soaking, when this cold front moved through the basement and it was unscathed, being somewhat protected by the sides of the bucket. It will need to be re-mounted come spring and I am thinking a wire basket will be a good choice this time. The second plant is back beside the furnace with the Phalaenopsis Orchids and they are all o-kay.

    The one Spathphyllium 'Mons Loa' that was on the floor in front of the water heated lost a few more leaves and I have trimmed it down to a single healthy leaf. Two large heads and a couple of smaller ones lost all of their leaves, but if the centers stay firm they should regenerate. I have many of these also, this one was a rescue plant so it is a bit special. It was growing very well in it's low light but warm spot in front of the water heater and I have no doubts it will come out of it, although it will have to be re-potted come spring.

    It's too soon to tell if the little Sun Coleus will bounce back or not. I also had a "Kong" Coleus seedling that may have been lost, I have seeds, so no biggie there.

    I really am amazed by how tough some of the tropical and arid (cacti/succulents) plants are. I am beginning to think that having the fan on may have saved some from being damaged and others from being more severely damaged. Maintaining all of the plants on the "dry side" no doubt helped as well. Having so many plants crammed into a small area probably helped to protect others from being damaged. But now I need to find a way to open things up so the ones that were damaged have a better chance to recover. Now that will be a trick, indeed.



    Rebecca
    Nature is trying very hard to make us succeed, but nature does not depend on us. We are not the only experiment.
    - R. Buckminster Fuller

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    northeast Tennessee
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    Rebecca, Glad everything seems to be on the road to recovery. The comment about your staghorn fern caught my eye. I am interested in how you have it mounted and how you would go about putting it in a wire basket. I have one that is just in a pot of soil which I know is not the proper way to grow it. Maybe you could start a new thread about this interesting plant. as I would love to get mine started right come spring.
    tennessee sue

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