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Mutant in paradise... Mutant in paradise...

Mutant in paradise...

Last season I ramped up my brugmansia hybridizing efforts using brugmansias with mutant and deeply serrated foliage.  The results of those...

Fred's Garden Blog

After a nearly five year hiatus, Fred's Garden Blog is back! Now you can enjoy and experience the gardening exploits and adventures of Fred in his quest to hybridize brugmansia and keep his jungle and nursery under control.

Sommer Gardens / Wednesday, December 15, 2010 / Categories: Brugmansia, Weather

Is it Spring yet?

Winter rolled in early this year in Florida.  Typically we may have a slight chance of frost in December, but if we are going to encounter sub-freezing weather, it usually comes in January or early February.  This week we are in the midst of a hard freeze.  Last night the temps here dropped down to 25f.  As I am typing this at 2:00am Wednesday morning it is already 26f in my brugmansia growing area.  I'm sure it will drop 3-4 degrees more before sunrise. 

To protect my plants from this sub freezing weather I opted to cover as many plants as possible with commercial grade frost, cloth followed by a layer of clear poly.  Pictured below is one of the larger groups of brugs I covered.  This area measures 35ft x 75ft and contains many of my 7 gallon stock plants inter-spaced with lots of 3 gallon pots of my watched seedlings and the majority of my hibiscus collection.

coveredbrugs-1.jpgThe irony of this early freeze is that I plan to build a hoop house and shade structure to protect my plants during the holidays.  To get ready for winter I was also planning on culling seedlings, something I had unfortunately put off for the past montht. My Angel Trumpets were just getting ready to enter a big bloomapalooza phase and I bet 20-30% of my new seedlings would have been culled and tossed into the compost pile.

The photo below shows several other groups of protected brugs. The larger group in the back center is made up of 10ft tall stock plants.  Within that group is at least 100 seed pods in various stages of development.  The trailer on the left is used for storage of supplies, but now it has been gutted and is full of many of my favorite plants.  it is also the only group of plants that has heat. The poor 3 gallon brug in the center was one that had rooted itself deeply in the ground and wasn't special enough to protect.  You can see the beating it already took in last night's freeze.

coveredbrugs-2.jpgHad just a light freeze been in the forecast, then most of these plants would have remained uncovered and I would have just ran the overhead sprinklers to protect the plants with a layer of ice. Once the weather forecast changed to a hard freeze i knew I had to take more drastic actions.

At least now I'll have a jump start on some of my spring cleaning.  Many of these seedlings are a couple of years old and were just growing on top of the ground.  All the new seedlings now grow on ground cloth to keep them from rooting into the ground below.  This large area was scheduled to be cleaned and covered with cloth in spring.  Now I can move that task up a few months early.   

coveredbrugs-3.jpgTo cover as many plants as possible in the smallest amount of space, plants were stacked diagonally pot to pot. The one covered group in the front center of the photo above consisted of over 1,500 gallon sized pots.  Many of these plants were getting ready to bloom for the very first time.  I still have not figured out what my strategy will be when I pull the covers off on Thursday.  It is impossible to keep a 5-6ft tall plant in a gallon pot in an upright position on its own. :)

Here are a bunch of 3 gallon seedlings stacked and ready to be covered.
brugknockdown.jpgOnly one group of plants did not receive the protective layer of poly. The group below just received a double layer of frost cloth. This group contains some of my oldest and tallest seedlings.  Many of the plants were 12 feet tall and taller.  They were all knocked down close to the ground to make it easier for me to cover them. 

When I checked on my plants today I was excited to see that they came through fine from last night's freeze.  Any damage I saw was superficial.  I saw plenty of buds on the ground, but even more are still hanging on.  I'm hoping I'll be rewarded with lots of surprises during the holidays like the Day Dreams x Ludger's Windsong seedling I recently wrote about.  That was one I found when I was pulling up plants to cover yesterday.

I hate cold weather! .. 

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