Georgia & South Carolina, USA: January 2018 freeze

92 posts in this topic

3 hours ago, Laaz said:

70F today, time to start the trimming & cleanup.

 

 

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Shame you had to get that cold. They look really beat up with crown collapse already.

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On 1/10/2018, 11:10:56, PalmatierMeg said:

Cold damage can take days, weeks even months to show up. In 2010, I was losing palms up to 9 months after the Jan. 11 record cold blast. Then a record cold Dec. 2010 just added to the death toll - 2010 was not a good year for tropical palms in Cape Coral. Probably at least 80% of Adonidias were wiped out (not a bad thing; they were way overplanted) and survivors didn't flower or set seeds for two years. Now, after 7 mild winters, the pendulum is swinging back. That is the way things go and I've lived long enough to see it. Hopefully, those of you younger than I will live long enough to see it for yourselves too. Certainly be open-minded and ready to learn but don't buy whole hog into some egg-headed, jargon-filled, addled personal agendas of competing loudmouths trying to convince you they have all the answers. Enough said.

I agree Meg! I started collecting and growing palms in 1980 in St Pete. As you all know that was a wicked decade for tropicals all over the state.  I certianly did not pick the right decade to start growing palms but at least I saw how cold Florida can really get, and will again. It goes in cycles, we have had some warm years but the cold will return again. That is why I know live in SW Florida, instead of Central Florida. We are certianly not inmune to freezes here as everyone saw in 2010, but I have a better chance here than in St Pete, as I saw how cold St Pete can really get. 

I just enjoy what I can grow and don't worry about it, and if I lose something due to cold or anything else, it gives me an excuse to go shopping! 

Also like many have said it takes time for damage to show up, so just a week or so after a freeze won't show you all the damage, the palm may already be a goner and it does not even know it. 

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Looks like Greenville will have some more nights in the teens and Charleston will get another wallop of 20-22F nights in the next week or so.  This front seems to be pulling more easterly as we are forecasted with only one night @ 20 and the rest at 24-27.

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On 1/11/2018, 5:43:05, Palmaceae said:

I agree Meg! I started collecting and growing palms in 1980 in St Pete. As you all know that was a wicked decade for tropicals all over the state.  I certianly did not pick the right decade to start growing palms but at least I saw how cold Florida can really get, and will again. It goes in cycles, we have had some warm years but the cold will return again. That is why I know live in SW Florida, instead of Central Florida. We are certianly not inmune to freezes here as everyone saw in 2010, but I have a better chance here than in St Pete, as I saw how cold St Pete can really get. 

I just enjoy what I can grow and don't worry about it, and if I lose something due to cold or anything else, it gives me an excuse to go shopping! 

Also like many have said it takes time for damage to show up, so just a week or so after a freeze won't show you all the damage, the palm may already be a goner and it does not even know it. 

 

I think the bolded statement has picked up my spirits quite a bit and is one of the better things I have  heard post event damage. Palm growing is a blast especially around here where folks go crazy when they see them. Kinda like how I was a kid seeing one in maryland for the first time. 

On 1/11/2018, 8:29:53, TexasColdHardyPalms said:

Looks like Greenville will have some more nights in the teens and Charleston will get another wallop of 20-22F nights in the next week or so.  This front seems to be pulling more easterly as we are forecasted with only one night @ 20 and the rest at 24-27.

Yeah the east coast isnt out of the woods 100% til march, but the real bad is over January 29th time frame with "events" still possible in February. 

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To your point MDoftheSouth, my philosophy is to surround the tender plants with very cold-hardy stuff so that your winter garden won't look awful when a freeze events like this one comes along.  The big, cold-hardy plants sort of hide/cover the damaged ones if you create a dense, jungle effect. 

If a really big freeze comes, then the tender plants will die, unfortunately.  Yet you will still have the cold-hardy surrounding plants and will have enjoyed those tender tropicals for eight years, or whatever was the time span between major freezes.  Plants can grow a lot in those enjoyable 6-10 years while you had them.

I once heard someone say that they went through zone denial for a while, but eventually realized that most truly tropical plants do not belong way up in northern Florida near Georgia.  Going forward, that person opted to grow only plants that are guaranteed to last forever way up in North Florida. I, personally, am less pragmatic because I simply don't enjoy looking at cold-hardy plants and palms, with a few exceptions.

Key West, Florida, may be a completely different world in the tropics, skirting the edge of the Tropic of Cancer and the northern periphery the Caribbean Sea.  It is the other end of the state from me, and I can't expect to grow what people grow down there.  But I can replant those tender tropicals every eight or ten years when they get wiped out by a big freeze.

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Very good points. Our cycle here is every 5-10 years, but since about 2010 its been more frequent. 2010 was a bad year then we got a break then 2012+ have been pretty brutal for us. Im hoping we go back to normal or warm up like everyone is saying, but Im not seeing that at all. As for plantings My original plan was to build walls with plants, but they take forever and I have yet to find a viable needle palm supplier that wont break the bank. Essentially this spring will be cutting losses, if I can trying bigger hardier palms and starting to build the natural wall (given I can source the plants). 

 

Im all for zone pushing, and will try more plants Im sure of it. Just demoralizing that we were so mild most of my life and as soon as I start trying palms the weather changes lol. If I didnt have bad luck I wouldnt have any at all! But still Ill keep trying until I can move. Its interesting seeing what can and cant grow here and its all a learning experience. 

 

Honestly I just seem to forget my plan all too often, add in the innate depressing nature of winter and the spear pulls and I get down. But my original plan was to plant as many as I could afford because I knew there would be an attrition rate. I too often forget that and let it get to my head. This spring Ill be working on placement as well as trying to build a natural barrier. I wish my wife wasnt hell bent on an addition or Id have planted on the east side of the house where it only freezes when we have events like this last one. 

 

So yeah Ill keep trying and find my groove. 

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Not so happy update:

Anything that showed damage quickly is dead - except the livistona chinensis won't get on the cart.

Damage that showed later:

Trachycarpus - 7 gallon, in ground,  all lost spears and the youngest full size leaves.  1 gal waggies (in the ground) are all but dead.

C. humilis - one killed immediately, two on life support. Spear pull, 80% burn on the green one and 50% burn on the silver.  Both planted in 2016 from 2 gallon size.

Butia odorata - two have 100% defoliation, two look OK.  15 gal and 5 gal, the smaller one spear pulled too.

Sabal causarium - 10% burn (3 gal, in ground).

Seedlings (1-3 leaves):

Sabal mexicana, sabal rosei, serenoa repens silver, and phoenix dactlyifera are 100% dead. 

Butia odorata, Sabal palmetto, sabal tamaulipas, trithrinax brasiliensis, and cycas revoluta are ~75% dead and look worse every day. 

Sabal minor and trachcarpus fortunei - about 50% loss.

So far, seedlings have had similar survival rates in the ground vs. pots. 

Steve

Edited by Turtlesteve
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1 hour ago, Turtlesteve said:

Not so happy update:

Anything that showed damage quickly is dead - except the livistona chinensis won't get on the cart.

Damage that showed later:

Trachycarpus - 7 gallon, in ground,  all lost spears and the youngest full size leaves.  1 gal waggies (in the ground) are all but dead.

C. humilis - one killed immediately, two on life support. Spear pull, 80% burn on the green one and 50% burn on the silver.  Both planted in 2016 from 2 gallon size.

Butia odorata - two have 100% defoliation, two look OK.  15 gal and 5 gal, the smaller one spear pulled too.

Sabal causarium - 10% burn (3 gal, in ground).

Seedlings (1-3 leaves):

Sabal mexicana, sabal rosei, serenoa repens silver, and phoenix dactlyifera are 100% dead. 

Butia odorata, Sabal palmetto, sabal tamaulipas, trithrinax brasiliensis, and cycas revoluta are ~75% dead and look worse every day. 

Sabal minor and trachcarpus fortunei - about 50% loss.

So far, seedlings have had similar survival rates in the ground vs. pots. 

Steve

I looked back through the thread to find your ultimate low, looks like 14 with multiple nights also in the teens. I’m surprised by some of the damage you saw, like Sabal mexicana 100% dead at 14 degrees? Was it a small specimen? I would be very surprised at a mature specimen dead at 14. Also S. minor (arguably the most cold hardy palm in the world, top 3 at least) 50% damage is surprising. 

Sorry to see so much damage, looks like you have a pretty good collection of cold hardy palms. 

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The last few bullet points were all seedlings, sorry if it wasn't clear.  When I say 50%, I mean that I had a bunch of seedlings, and half died (so far).  Most of these would have been fine as mature palms, or probably even 2-3 gallon size for the Sabals.  The larger windmills that spear pulled will probably survive since the older leaves are OK - but I am doubtful for the Chamaerops and Butia, since they're defoliated. 

I really have an uphill battle, in that I have an exposed yard with no large trees.  So, it could have been colder than I realized at ground level.  A house up the road has two small green Chamaerops humilis under canopy, and they look much better than mine.

Steve

 

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Sorry for all your losses. It's a learning experience and I've had my share of those. Now you know tiny seedlings can't survive conditions that older palms can. Get more seeds, try again. Next horrendous winter bring the seedlings inside during arctic cold blasts. Think about protecting smaller planted palms you are keen to protect. A lot of work but people as far north as Iowa and Wisconsin have done it.

When my gardens were much younger I wrapped my small palms in cotton flannel sheets I bought at Goodwill in the offseason. When I ran out of those I raided the closets for t-shirts and hoodies and dressed them (really). I have a photo somewhere of 3 Chamaedorea deckeriana wrapped/dressed in hoodies - they look like monks filing in for prayers. Sure, it looked wacky but the palms survived.

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This Lytocaryum has really surprised me. With only a cheap plastic tarp thrown over it to keep the freezing rain & snow off it. We hit right around 16F. The emerginging spear got frosted, but the new spear is coming out nice and green.

 

 

 

 

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I had to perform surgery to my L. Wedd. It lost 100% of the foliage but didnt spear pull. I cut it off flush a few inches down to be safe. The hoehnei only had 25% burn. 

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