A taste of the cold

We've had a touch of cold weather recently, with nighttime lows dipping around or just below freezing. Our normal low in St. Louis at this time of year is around 40 F, but our temps are not very steady. The non-hardy plants in my garden got a touch of "frostbite":


Some of the leaves on the tropical plants like this Colocasia (Elephant Ears) have had it. Although it's depressing, it happens every year so I just have to accept it. So I'll confront it head-on and take a look at the damage today.

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The various Elephant Ears really took the most damage:






But it's not every leaf on every plant. In fact, some of the plants show just the slightest amount of damage, probably due to their location -- closer to the house stayed a bit warmer it seems, which is expected.

The bananas are a little sad too:




Again, it's not every leaf, and the "pups" -- the smaller plants growing at the base of the mother plant -- are fine too:


They must have been protected by the leaves of the larger plant above them.

A few of the castor bean leaves show some damage too:


but for the most part, the castor bean plants also look okay.


They're bent over with the weight of their seed pods and from a strong windstorm we had last week, but otherwise fine.

It's not just the large-leaved plants that were damaged either.


This Tradescantia zebrina took a hit too (although three other identical plants were untouched). This is one that I'll be taking cuttings of into the house to overwinter. I better do that soon, since the forecast is for the low to be about 25 F later this week. That means that I have only a couple of days to either take a bunch of cuttings or move plants into the garage. I'll probably do a little of both.

You might get the impression from these photos that most of my plants are done for the year now and my garden is on its way to being unattractive and depressing. Not entirely true!


That's one reason I like growing bamboo: it can take the cold and gives me some green to look at throughout the winter. Tropicals are lush and beautiful, but they need to be balanced in the garden with some tougher plants. Cold climate gardeners have to plan our gardens for all four seasons, or we'll be left with a bleak landscape for a quarter of the year or more.

Now I just need to make some room in the garage and mentally prepare myself for moving a lot of pots. I really was hoping to put this off for a few more weeks.

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Alan  – (November 3, 2010 at 8:00 AM)  

It wasn't supposed to get below freezing last night, but it may have by a couple of degrees. I haven't been outside yet so don't know if there's any more damage -- I hope not.

Gerhard Bock  – (November 3, 2010 at 11:30 AM)  

It's always sad to see the elephant ears and bananas go. Happens here too, just a little later in the season.

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