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2022-December Freeze (SC zone 8A)


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December 2022.  We had 5 nights in a row at or below lows of 20F.  The worst night (2nd night) we hit 12F with a high of 33 the following day and a low of 15F the next night.  It was also extremely windy the night before it hit 12F so there was little mercy or benefit to having favorable microclimates.

I still don’t know what will survive in many cases so will update as things progress:

Unprotected plants:

Butia Odorata:  7 large palms (one trunking and the rest near trunking size).  One large palm completely defoliated, two with spear damage, the rest look perfect.  The one that defoliated is still alive.  About 15 smaller Butia (3 gallon to 15 gallon size, well established in the ground).  Of these, all but  two have spear pulled and some have started to rot.  I have hit them all with fungicide but I suspect I will lose some.  

chamaerops humilis:  5 gallon ish size.  90% burned, spear pulled, probably dead.  Mature palms around town all showing 50-75% burn with spears damaged or dead.  Most overrated cold hardy palm in this area.

“Super mule” hybrids.  Supposedly (JxB)F2 x S?  Two large but not trunking palms.  Both 100% defoliated.  Cannot tell if alive or not.

Phoenix dactylifera.  One small palm (3 gallon) confirmed dead.  Larger palm (15 gallon ish) is defoliated, spear rot, probably dead.

Nannorrhops / Mazari palm.  I don’t know if they are arabica or richtiana.  Two palms about 3 gallon size.  50% defoliation, spears intact.

Sabal palmetto.  No damage.

Sabal rosei.  No damage.

Sabal mexicana.  Minor leaf burn

Sabal causiarum?  Multiple types.  Two large but not trunking palms with very minor burn on leaf tips.  It’s possible these are causiarum x palmetto but not sure.  Smaller plants, suspected to be dominguensis, burned down to ground level.

Sabal uresana.  Blue form has 75-90% leaf burn but spears are intact.  Green form has about 50% leaf burn.

Sabal minor, multiple varieties.  No damage.

Needle palm.  No damage.

All cycads - 90-100% defoliated.  Some may have more severe damage but it’s not showing yet.  This includes Cycas revoluta, taitungensis, panzihuaensis, Ceratozamia latifolia, kuesteriana, hildae, Macrozamia moorei, communis, and Zamia pumila.

Eucalyptus cineraea and damplyreana defoliated and may be killed to the ground.

Eucalyptus neglecta has minor burn to young leaves only.

Olive tree 100% leaf drop.

Citrus.  Fortunately all dormant.  Larger satsumas (6’ tall or more) dropped leaves but look OK so far. Smaller satsuma type citrus and any less hardy citrus took major damage or were killed to the ground.  

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Now for protected plants.  In all cases these plants had no supplemental heat, but had single layer covers thrown over them (such as nursery pots, buckets, old awnings, whatever I could find until I ran out of stuff).  This turned out to be woefully inadequate but I was unprepared as our hvac died a few days before this all happened.

Livistona mariae x decora.  100% defoliated.  Leaves cut back and no evidence of movement yet.

Livistona nitida.  100% defoliated, immediate spear pull, leaves collapsed.  I’m pretty sure it’s dead.

Livistona chinensis.  100% burn, no spear pull.

Dypsis decipiens.  This is the big shocker so far.  Probably 30% leaf burn but with all spears intact and green.

Cycas guizhouensis.  100% burn despite being protected.

Serenoa repens (blue form).  Some were protected and some not.  All spears have pulled on all palms.  One small palm (2-3 gallon) is dead.

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Forgot one:  

Washingtonia x filibusta, unprotected, about 5-7 gallon size.  100% defoliated, spear pull, no movement.  Likely dead.  

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One more:

Jubaea chilensis.  20” strap leaves, in ground for going on two years.  Protected with an overturned pot.  No damage evident.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Looking really bad now.

Livistona mariae x decora and nitida confirmed dead.  Washintonia x filibusta dead.  Most serenoa repens dead.  Phoenix dactylifera all dead.  Small chamaerops dead.  Most small Butia odorata are dead, and fungicide on the pulled spears didn't save them.  A couple in the 3-5 gallon size range might survive, and strap leafed Butia are fine (being that the growth points were well underground).  Mature or near mature Butia are fine, the one that defoliated is pushing growth.   One "super mule" might live, the other seems dead.  a non-trunking windmill palm has now spear pulled and is getting fungicide tomorrow.

But, the Dypsis decipiens lives on.

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11 hours ago, Turtlesteve said:

But, the Dypsis decipiens lives on.

At least some good news from an otherwise dreadful winter.

Lakeland, FL

USDA Zone (2012): 9b | Sunset Zone: 26 | Record Low: 20F/-6.67C (1985, 1962) | Record Low USDA Zone: 9a | 30-Year Avg. Low: 30F | 30-year Min: 24F

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