With cold temperatures again in our forecast here in North Florida, be prepared to cover the more cold sensitive landscape plants. But remember that covering a plant without additional heat is primarily a method of protecting against frosts rather than freezes. Drape the covering to the ground to trap heat under the covering. It’s best to use cloth rather than plastic. Heat from an ordinary light bulb placed under the covering will provide additional cold protection.
Leave cloth-type covers such as sheets and blankets over plants as long as temperatures are dropping to freezing at night and are rising to no more than the 50s during the day. But remove plastic covers when temperatures rise above freezing. Remove all covers when night temperatures are consistently above freezing. Leaving plants covered day after day may cause them to break dormancy under the warm covering. They will then be more susceptible to cold injury during the next freeze.
Cold weather will come and go throughout our North Florida winters. Be prepared to protect your prized plants each time freezing weather is predicted. Resist the urge to prune and fertilize too soon. As spring approaches, you’ll have a better idea of what survived and what did not.