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The cold may have nipped them but give plants recovery time

By BY DIANNA WRAY
Feb. 4, 2011 at 5:01 p.m.
Updated Feb. 3, 2011 at 8:04 p.m.

Gail Repka let a sprinkler run over the Sago palm in front of her house on Ivanhoe Street for eight hours on Tuesday and Wednesday to create an ice tree.

A LITTLE ADVICEDon't despair. Even if you forgot to cover your plants, they may still survive.

County Extension Agent Joe Janak advised giving plants two to three weeks time to recover.

John Fossati, owner of Four Seasons Nursery, said to cut away the damaged sections of the plants and keep an eye on them before throwing in the towel.

When Gail Repka heard about the cold weather coming to the Crossroads, she pulled out some blankets to cover her plants.

The Sago palm just outside her front door remained uncovered. Taking advantage of the dropping temperature, she created an ice tree.

"I've loved them ever since I was a little kid. Growing up, our neighbor used to make one every time it froze. It was beautiful," Repka said, smiling as she remembered.

On Tuesday night, as the cold weather rolled in, Repka placed a small sprinkler on a ladder next to the palm. She let the sprinkler run for about four hours that night and four hours the next day, waking up to find her palm tree encased and glittering in ice.

"This is a pretty hearty tree, so I figured it would be all right. I forgot to cover the Hibiscus bush, though. I don't know how well it'll recover," Repka said, glancing at the bush.

Ice trees aside, it was a time to cover up the plants, John Fossati, owner of Four Seasons Nursery, said.

Fossati said they received a lot of calls from people asking for advice as the storm rolled in. He advised people to cover their plants with cloths, not plastic, and to make sure they were well insulated and protected from both the cold and the wind.

For those who neglected to cover their plants, Fossati advised them not to despair.

As the plants thaw out, people should cut away the sections damaged by the freeze and give the plants a chance to recover.

He also said not to give up on palm trees.

"Some palms are really tenacious. Wait and see because they may be OK. Even if you've lost every leaf on a palm, don't give up because they can always come back," Fossati said.

The cold may have damaged some plants, but it could have been a lot worse, County Extension agent Joe Janak said.

"Anytime we get any extended time below freezing, we'll see some damage," Janak said. "It's still a little early to tell, but it looks like we won't have much damage."

Agriculturally, Janak said, there aren't any crops growing this time of year in Victoria County.

"If anything, it's a good thing, since the cold may have killed a lot of the weeds," he said.

However, pasturing may have been affected by the cold, killing or damaging the clover that livestock grazes on this time of year, Janak said.

He said they won't know what kind of impact the cold really had on any plants for a few weeks. Frozen plants need two to three weeks to recover.

He remained optimistic, though.

"We don't know anything yet, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Overall, it could have been a lot worse," Janak said.

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