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Swolte

Painful protection

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Swolte

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WARNING: NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART
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Two more days to go and predictions for College Station, TX were still hovering around 5F (and that's just the Euro model, see pic1). Drastic action was needed and I decided to cut the palms down so I can at least protect them more easily. All these palms are between 3-5 years in the ground and planted from 5G (some were starting to trunk). 

Here's what I did.  A very low-cost method. This is a first time for me and I, frankly, didn't have a lot of time to research better methods. Do let me know if you have suggestions for better methods. I did the following to a Butia, Sabal palmetto, W. Robusta, W Filifera, Phoenix Canariensis, and finally a special triple hybrid (But x Jub)x But) x Syagrus). The last one was also my largest and fastest growing palm and is represented in the pics (let me know if you want to see pics of the others too).

STEP 1: See pic 2. Took a pic of the palm tree that makes a great statement to the front of the house! Good microclimate as it mostly gets full sun, is irrigated, and close to the house. Mulched on top of a sandy loam soil that the builder added to elevate the house when it was built. Got it 3 years ago as a 5 gallon and has shown amazing growth. Very healthy palm.

STEP 2: See pic 3. The cut. Really had to make myself do this. I disinfected a small-toothed blade of a reciprocating saw and started cutting. Within a few minutes, everything was gone except for some spears (in retrospect, I probably could have folded some leaves and try to retain some more 'green' to speed recovery). Used two bamboo stakes tightly duct-taped & tied together for support. 

STEP 3: See pic 4. Fleece blankets. I was at the Walmart last week to get some more frost protection stuff and I noticed they had these very lightweight fleece blankets on sale for 1 dollar a piece! I thought it was a sign from the palm-gods and I got as much as I could fit into a cart (minus a toddling daughter).
I wrapped the first blanket around the spear and fastened it using an elastic. Easy. 

STEP 4. See pic 5. Layering. I tucked in the next blanket using the elastic and folded it around the palm. Next elastic. Repeated this process until the entire palm was layered in 4 blankets. I tried to place the elastics such that the thickest layer was where I estimated the growing point of the palm to be. 

STEP 5. See pic 6. Frost blanket wrapped around the whole thing secured with elastic and small metal pins at the bottom. Done. Bright red clip at the top for looks (didn't actually end up needing it). 

Hope that should do the trick!

To be continued...

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Edited by Swolte
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Ben OK

Those are pretty drastic measures. I hope they work for you. Good luck.

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Joe NC

Add. Christmas. Lights.  

5f... survival is a crapshoot without the added heat.

 

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Xenon
33 minutes ago, Joe NC said:

Add. Christmas. Lights.  

5f... survival is a crapshoot without the added heat.

 

Agreed. You definitely need heat, covers aren't going to be enough. 

I would cut most of the spear too to cut surface area and minimize heat loss. Focus on keeping the meristem (heart) alive 

Edited by Xenon
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chinandega81

Please string some lights on it. It needs a heat source. This is the crucial step for survival.

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Swolte

Mostly LED, so this will have to do (for now), unfortunately. Most of the other palms farther in the yard won't have any heat sources either. 

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climate change virginia

That protection looks like a rolled up umbrella

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PalmTreeDude

100% give that more heat the next chance you get, otherwise it looks good and I hope the best for it. 

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amh

https://www.heb.com/product-detail/feit-electric-string-lights/2119195

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Palm D
2 hours ago, Joe NC said:

Add. Christmas. Lights.  

5f... survival is a crapshoot without the added heat.

 

Exactly, without added heat wrapping the palm may help with wind chill drying out the moisture from the palm as quick, heat will preserve the heart of the palm from freeze.  Also, you could cut the spear shorter as it most likely will spear pull Anyways and preserving the length of it is not necessary.  Sorry to see you have to go to such extremes!  It sucks!

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WestCoastGal
1 hour ago, Swolte said:

Mostly LED, so this will have to do (for now), unfortunately. Most of the other palms farther in the yard won't have any heat sources either. 

I don’t know about cutting off the fronds pre-freeze but yes painful to see. Unfortunately LEDs aren’t going to produce much if any real heat. Hate to see what temps you guys are headed for and seen too many sad palm stories over the years from other freezes. I wonder if adding some non-LED outdoor/wet rated floodlights to that corner of your house would help lessen the cold temps at that house corner. Wondering if it could warm the house bricks up. 5F is brutal though and not sure anything will help. 

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necturus

Dig it up and put it in your garage or house. Mules take it extremely well. I dug up one larger than this today. I was going to leave a few others out, but the forecast is ridiculous so they're all coming out tomorrow. Hell you can bareroot and just wrap it in a wet towel. 

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jimmyt

Here is what I did for my Mule planted just this past year.  Copper sulfate to the crown, Gutter psr cable wrap, frost cloth and a planket.  C’mon Lucky Seven!   Sorry that it is sideways but the site would not let me rotate the pic.  I hope that is not an Omen!

932D20B6-D18A-4130-B4EE-2B1159B5C089.jpeg

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Swolte

Thanks all, digging up is too much at the moment. Today is for weathering the house (and rental) as well as protecting some other plants that are truly irreplaceable (I actually have two of these hybrids and they are replaceable). I'll see if I can swing by a store to grab some lights but it seems everything was overrun yesterday already and road conditions will get dangerous soon. If I have time I may search the attic for some old ones (brrr...). I'll throw a few plastic bags over it! Never thought I'd have to go to these lengths in Texas but I'll make sure to have some lights as standard palm protection here moving forward.

Oh heck, its VALENTINE'S DAY...

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palmnut-fry

"Never thought I'd have to go to those lenghts in TX"! Famous last words of a frustrated gardener! Look, I was raised here and this is what the 70's & 80's 

were more like! As posted in other thread, this is a cake walk to what we dealt with in '89 & then the very next year! I still saw most of the hardier palms 

survive so all this talk about going full tilt boogie with digging up ( have you ever tried digging a well-rooted 8'x8' plant with a shovel?) a bit much. Even in warm weather

that's a tough one! Also, xmas lites in extended below-freezing weather with blowing winds can't be that much of a saving factor. I trust the built-in insulation most

of these hardier palms have, plus the genetics to cope like Trachys. I mean they're native to cold (but temperate) mounts. 

Anyway- good news up here in the city yesterday as the sun came out all afternoon and saw temps climb to mid 30s* F Was relieved as it had been like 36 hrs 

since above freezing before and looks to be the last above freeze for SIX DAYS! More snow they say this afternoon/eve but so far lite grainy snow over nite has made like a nice

cover on surfaces- blows around in wind! Very Klondike Bar commercially! LOL

I got all my babies wrapped as best I could on Friday and drove around town looking for bagged leaves I mound up at base of plants.& then transport leaves into compost. I

figured all the stores would be sold out of l/s cloth anyway but use old sheets & blankets I've accumulated. ( as bad as it is, even mom's hand sewn blanket put to use wrapped around

my bay laurel tree as she loved that tree!). 
 

Wish everyone the best down here and across the "palm belt"! GEEZ LOUISE

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Joe NC
1 hour ago, palmnut-fry said:

Also, xmas lites in extended below-freezing weather with blowing winds can't be that much of a saving factor. I trust the built-in insulation most

They really do work.  It is amazing how much heat they add.  I've used temp sensors to see what the lights do.  Just a wrap does essentially nothing for temp.  Lights under a wrap can get you 10 to 20 degrees above ambient easily.  With enough lights and a good wrap you can keep a palm above freezing through the worst of what is forecast.

I've pulled a decent size mule through Feb 2018 polar vortex in NC.  Multiple lows to 10 or 11.  Ice and snow for a week.  100 year record event.... just Christmas lights and frost cloth.  Not even foliar damage.

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Allen
7 minutes ago, Joe NC said:

They really do work.  It is amazing how much heat they add.  I've used temp sensors to see what the lights do.  Just a wrap does essentially nothing for temp.  Lights under a wrap can get you 10 to 20 degrees above ambient easily.  With enough lights and a good wrap you can keep a palm above freezing through the worst of what is forecast.

I've pulled a decent size mule through Feb 2018 polar vortex in NC.  Multiple lows to 10 or 11.  Ice and snow for a week.  100 year record event.... just Christmas lights and frost cloth.  Not even foliar damage.

Agreed 100%.  Time tested mini lights under just frost cloth give 10F easy, under multiple layers can be a lot more.

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SailorBold

Here's my JubaeaxButia f3 hybrid with my protection added. I decided to protect because this palm defoliated in 2018..and then was hurricane cut by my landscaper last summer.. recovery is a little slow..so I want a better recovery. It defoliated at 8-9f.. but with temps barely above freezing for almost a week..

This is a shorter duration freeze.. so it may have been fine.. but I don't want to push it just yet.  I guess this would be called the balloon method.. just a tarp over with pipe tape wrapped around the trunk.. it has kept the temperature above 28f..and currently 36f.  Im using my old cheapie weather station sensor inside..Its open on the sides.. 

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WestCoastGal

While it’s likely too late for this event to find frost cloth, be aware there are different ratings for it offering different ranges of protection. Also different levels of sunlight absorbing too. And water absorbance as I recall, some more repellant than others. 

When we first had the need, practically everyone was sold out. I had panicked at the last moment and decided to try my best to protect the day before. Found a few sheets at a local Ace Hardware garden store and all that was left was the one rated for minimal degree protection. It sucks to be shopping for this at the last minute, plus prices tend to go up during cold spells. You hate to buy this stuff and have it sit unused when temps are otherwise within normal range but after seeing how damaged our birds were, cut to ground during spring as damage kept emerging, for us it was better than looking at years of an unattractive yard that had been so beautiful just weeks before.  My advice would be to shop stores specializing in this material, not your local garden shop for better deals in quantity. We bought a roll of it in a “sheet” size that would grow with our yard as our plants grew. Cut as you need. Some plants will add a lot of height as they mature and a sheet that doesn’t give ground to ground coverage isn’t very helpful and more difficult to work with. Ideally you don’t want your frost protection to be touching the leaves but maintain an air layer but that’s another topic. Just some thoughts for the future. I should start a thread to show what we ended up doing and lessons learned.

Wishing all of you best of luck in coming days. 

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PalmatierMeg

Too late this year but something to consider before next winter: Shop Good Will and local thrift stores for flannel sheets, fleece throws, blankets, even towels and regular sheets. That stuff will be cheap and overlooked during summer but may save a palm's life during the next record cold spell

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Joe NC

I have used "super tuff" double layer painters drop cloths.  8x12 are 5 bucks.  They don't have the problem of freezing any foliage they happen to touch like plastic bags or sheeting.  They are not breathable but work well for short term (a week or two).  Keeps water out of the crown.

Might be able to find them at a big box store last minute. 

Some of the other paper lined disposable plastic drop cloths for painting are really cheap and work too.  They are a staple in my on deck protection methods.

Also put the smooth plastic lined side facing out...

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PalmatierMeg

In a pinch you can buy flannel backed vinyl tablecloths at WalMart and dollar stores.

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palmnut-fry
5 hours ago, Joe NC said:

They really do work.  It is amazing how much heat they add.  I've used temp sensors to see what the lights do.  Just a wrap does essentially nothing for temp.  Lights under a wrap can get you 10 to 20 degrees above ambient easily.  With enough lights and a good wrap you can keep a palm above freezing through the worst of what is forecast.

I've pulled a decent size mule through Feb 2018 polar vortex in NC.  Multiple lows to 10 or 11.  Ice and snow for a week.  100 year record event.... just Christmas lights and frost cloth.  Not even foliar damage.

You know, Joe, I've been thinking on my own as I do random things around my house in this confined, Covid- way of life these daze, and came to the realization at how dumb my statement was,

so I bow my head in acknowledged ignorance! Your's ( and others) confirmation this helps gave me the "Skin Bracer slap"! Thanks, I needed that! Gawd help my babies and wildlife through this horrible-ness! I boiled some water and filled pots for birds, feel so bad for them....

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Swolte

After reading all your comments I decided to drag my exhausted body up to the frigid attic to rummage through boxes of old Christmas stuff. Whilst cursing myself, I looked up saw a bright star. The star literally led me to the savior as inside it were lights - the only incandescent ones!

I did have to cut up the holy star to get at the lights but since stars often symbolize a guiding force towards ideal(s solutions), I figured I would be forgiven... 

Pic 1 - The star
Pic 2 - Put the lights underneath the frost blanket. The string was not long and there were only about 10 lights. I couldn't wrap them entirely around the trunk (about 75% covered)
Pic 3 - Put a plastic bag over it to prevent the lights from getting wet.

Amen!
 

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Swolte
15 hours ago, WestCoastGal said:

I should start a thread to show what we ended up doing and lessons learned.

Plz do!

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Joe NC
15 hours ago, palmnut-fry said:

You know, Joe, I've been thinking on my own as I do random things around my house in this confined, Covid- way of life these daze, and came to the realization at how dumb my statement was,

so I bow my head in acknowledged ignorance! Your's ( and others) confirmation this helps gave me the "Skin Bracer slap"! Thanks, I needed that! Gawd help my babies and wildlife through this horrible-ness! I boiled some water and filled pots for birds, feel so bad for them....

No worries.

I just wanted to share what I've learned up here in the great white North (Carolina).  Forecast to be in the 50's and upper 60's here this week.  Crazy when compared to pretty much anywhere north or west of here.  We dodged a bullet this time.

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maesy

You guys in america are gonna be hit very hard this time. I feel sorry for all of you palm lovers.

I suppose we are more experienced in bringing palms save through cold winters here in europe.

First of all, I would never cut any fronds before the freeze. Every leaf is an additionnal protection. My advise, tie them all up, get some heating cables such as people use for terrariums and wrap several layers of fleece, plankets, bubble wrap or what ever you have around. Finally put a big plastic bag or a fleece bag around it.

Here is how my butyagrus protection looks like at the moment. We had five days of prolonged frost. The lows were around 10f with two cold days with a high around 20f.

 

Screenshot_2021-02-15-15-16-06-669_com.miui.gallery.jpg

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Will Simpson

DSC04889.thumb.JPG.da1e23273edb8bb38334fe5402985fdd.JPGI protect my Washy when I see 16F or below which means I protect my Washy  about  50% of winters here . 

I wrap the trunk with incandescent Xmas lights and then one to two layers of blankets around the lights . It stays toasty under those blankets and my Washy has been through a 4F and 5F in two subsequent years without issue .

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Edited by Will Simpson
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WestCoastGal
4 hours ago, maesy said:

You guys in america are gonna be hit very hard this time. I feel sorry for all of you palm lovers.

I suppose we are more experienced in bringing palms save through cold winters here in europe.

First of all, I would never cut any fronds before the freeze. Every leaf is an additionnal protection. My advise, tie them all up, get some heating cables such as people use for terrariums and wrap several layers of fleece, plankets, bubble wrap or what ever you have around. Finally put a big plastic bag or a fleece bag around it.

Here is how my butyagrus protection looks like at the moment. We had five days of prolonged frost. The lows were around 10f with two cold days with a high around 20f.

 

Screenshot_2021-02-15-15-16-06-669_com.miui.gallery.jpg

I was actually surprised by this approach of precutting as I know for my birds of paradise and research I had done years ago on bananas I was told to leave the leaves on for as long as possible as it helps add some level of protection and only cut off/back once they go black so any fungal disease doesn’t spread. But then extra protection is being added with blankets so not sure what to think. 

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Swolte

Some update almost 2 months after the big freeze. Note temps went down to 3F and we had several days below freezing (not to mention the ice, snow etc...). All the palms in these pictures received the same treatment (all fronds cut but one spear, fleece blankets, frost blanket, etc...). Other than the triple hybrid, none of the palms were protected by a heat source. 

Pic 1 - the triple hybrid (But x Jub)x But) x Syagrus). The new spear is firm and I have no doubt this one will be do just great this summer.  I have another, smaller, one that I didn't protect that well and it does not look good (spear pull and no sign of growth yet).  

Pic 2 - Sabal Palmetto. I probably didn't even need to cut this one but it was at a very exposed spot. It's doing great and pushing several fronds. 

Pic 3 - W. Filifera (pure). Doing great. 

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Edited by Swolte
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Allen
8 minutes ago, Swolte said:

Some update almost 2 months after the big freeze. Note temps went down to 3F and we had several days below freezing (not to mention the ice, snow etc...). All the palms in these pictures received the same treatment (all fronds cut but one spear, fleece blankets, frost blanket, etc...). Other than the triple hybrid, none of the palms were protected by a heat source. 

Pic 1 - the triple hybrid (But x Jub)x But) x Syagrus). The new spear is firm and I have no doubt this one will be do just great this summer.  I have another, smaller, one that I didn't protect that well and it does not look good (spear pull and no sign of growth yet).  

Pic 2 - Sabal Palmetto. I probably didn't even need to cut this one but it was at a very exposed spot. It's doing great and pushing several fronds. 

Pic 3 - W. Filifera (pure). Doing great. 

 

Glad they are doing so good!

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Swolte

Pic 1 - P. Canariensis. Doing great. Been pushing lush new growth for weeks already. 

Pic 2 - Filibusta (parent palms reportedly survived a 6b winter). Doing great. Pushing several fronds. 

Pic 3 - Robusta. Disappointing. Not doing well despite the protection. It pulled a spear and the base feels a bit soft. The former spears were practically pushed out (I couldn't pull them 4 weeks ago) so something is going on down there. Made a little enclosure above the center to prevent water from coming in. I am giving it 50% on a long and healthy life.   

Pic 4 - Butia. Doing good. Slowly pushing fronds.   

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Edited by Swolte
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Teegurr
47 minutes ago, Swolte said:

Pic 1 - P. Canariensis. Doing great. Been pushing lush new growth for weeks already. 

Pic 2 - Filibusta (parent palms reportedly survived a 6b winter). Doing great. Pushing several fronds. 

Pic 3 - Robusta. Disappointing. Not doing well despite the protection. It pulled a spear and the base feels a bit soft. The former spears were practically pushed out (I couldn't pull them 4 weeks ago) so something is going on down there. Made a little enclosure above the center to prevent water from coming in. I am giving it 50% on a long and healthy life.   

Pic 4 - Butia. Doing good. Slowly pushing fronds.   

upd7.jpg

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This is amazing! Way to go! How old is the P. canariensis?

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Swolte
41 minutes ago, Teegurr said:

This is amazing! Way to go! How old is the P. canariensis?

I am not sure how old it is but I got it as a 5G from a sale at the Houston Garden Centers some 2 years ago. With the exception of the triple hybrid, these are all in unirrigated sites (some hand watering when I feel like it). I do fertilize them once in a while. 
:)

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NBTX11

Good recovery on all of these.  

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Collectorpalms

Just think had you not done anything almost all of them would be dead. I did Protect several with frost blanket and moving Blankets like yours but didn’t get as positive results. ? They looked ok for awhile but the green faded as it got back to normal spring hot weather. 
were yours able to get any filtered sun during the cold week?

Areas on the South side of College Station stayed warmer during the couple days leading up to the big dip. I was in the newer Indian Hills or Mission Lake ( names?) subdivision on the 13th and then Tower Point and it was 34F, while I was as 32f at the highest for 2-3 days before the freeze.

i was very tempted to get on my ladder to protect taller palms, but the constant Freezing drizzle my ladder would have killed me. Slick as snot.

Edited by Collectorpalms

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Swolte
1 hour ago, Collectorpalms said:

Just think had you not done anything almost all of them would be dead. I did Protect several with frost blanket and moving Blankets like yours but didn’t get as positive results. ? They looked ok for awhile but the green faded as it got back to normal spring hot weather. 
were yours able to get any filtered sun during the cold week?

Areas on the South side of College Station stayed warmer during the couple days leading up to the big dip. I was in the newer Indian Hills or Mission Lake ( names?) subdivision on the 13th and then Tower Point and it was 34F, while I was as 32f at the highest for 2-3 days before the freeze.

i was very tempted to get on my ladder to protect taller palms, but the constant Freezing drizzle my ladder would have killed me. Slick as snot.

Yes, they'd be toast. Perhaps the Sabal would have made it.

These were the very last ones I wrapped that weekend before the big dip. I was still hoping for a warming miracle and avoid using this method (e.g., cut everything to a single spear). I kept them in this state for about a week and a half, after the danger of another freeze disappeared from the long-range weather projections.

I think what helped was:
- Lots and lots of layers. Note that the 4+ fleece blankets are wrapped lightly (not tightly) around the palm in an overlapping fashion. That means a single blanket doesn't provide just one layer of protection but multiple. The meristem area was probably 10+ fleece blanket layers thick.
-Frost blanket. This blanket isn't all for insulation but it does a great job of keeping all moist off and it protects against wind. The fleece blankets inside were completely dry. Also, the freezing rain basically made this material very hard as the ice stayed on it much like an ice dome/igloo. That Monday/Tuesday, these protections basically looked like green shiny ice sculptures. 
- Fit with ground. All palms cut this way were small enough so I could make a snug fit with the ground. I also pinned the frost blanket down with these metal pins. I did a sloppier job for some palms I didn't cut the fronds off (and marginal trees for that matter!). I basically threw some hay at it and loosely wrapped it in an ill-fitting frost blanket enclosure (with several openings). In other words, they didn't have a tight fit with the ground. Most will be OK but several were showing (severe) frond damage, pulling spears, or had to be trunk-cut (or worse, just tossed my expensive JxB F1 yesterday!).

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