** Chill Out **

Davie, FL(Zone 10b)

It's a little late i know but for some of you this info may save your plumies!!

You can apply mulch on the soil which consists a layer of 2" to 3" of some insulating material as pine bark, straw, coconut or leaves of trees. This should be done before the soil is already cold or frozen, since mulching frozen soils will keep ice permanently and could harm the plumie roots.Plumies water needs should be checked after a freeze. The foliage could be transpiring (losing water vapor) on a sunny day after a freeze while water in the soil or container medium is frozen.
Apply water to thaw the soil and provide available water for the plant. Soils or mediums with high soluble salts should not be allowed to dry because salts would be concentrated into a small volume of water and can burn the plant roots.

Place the pots inside bigger plastic ones (not clay) and stuff the hollow space with straw, coconut, grass or old pillows stuffings. You can buy coconut or firbark medium from home depot which is sold as Orchid potting mix..

Severe pruning should be delayed until new growth appears to ensure that live wood is not removed! Dead, unsightly leaves may be removed as soon as they turn brown after a freeze if a high level of maintenance is desired. Cold injury may appear as a lack of new growth on a portion or all of the plumie, or as an overall weak appearance. Branch tips may be damaged while older wood is free of injury. Cold injured wood can be identified by examining the cambium layer (food conducting tissue) for black or brown coloration. Prune these branches behind the point of discoloration depending on
the extent of damage to the plumie.

If you have small plumies and want to protect them by just covering them, use a cloth material or a cloth layer and a plastic layer, rather than just plastic. Cold is transferred very quickly through plastic to solid materials such as leaves and stems that it touches. Plastic over cloth is effective because the cloth insulates the space between the plastic and the foliage, and the plastic blocks the wind and helps trap air in the area under the crown. Cover plants so that the material goes all the way to the ground. The idea is to trap enough heat under the cover to protect plants from the cold during the night. Place weights on the material on the ground so that it doesn't blow away. The effectiveness of covering plants depends to some extent on the wind. During freezes with windy weather, the covers tend to be less effective because
the wind blows the heat away. During windy freezes or very cold nights, the addition of plastic sheeting over the cloth is worth the effort on your plumies.
Throw some christmas lights under there to add to the warmth..
You can use a cloth product i use called Reemay under the plastic or just the Reemay.
Plumeria's in pots, which you are unable to cover because of their height and/or predicted conditions, may be carefully laid on their side on the ground and then covered with one or two layers of protective material. I use 2 x 4's to prop them on a angle using their stems then rather resting on the leaves which will break. Several of these plants may be grouped together and placed under an tree or your house eavesment which will give them additional protection from the cold and wind.
Tree canopies elevate minimum night temperature under them by reducing radiant heat
loss from the ground to the atmosphere. Shading from early morning sun may decrease
stem/bark splitting of some plumies after going thru a freeze.
The sap in the plumie cells,once frozen,increase in size and break the cell walls.
The possible damages greatly affect the young tissues,like new leaves or flower buds..
These parts are the most exposed to the cold.It can make these parts become blackened
in a few hours.Sometimes leaves present burned edges,a cork-like texture or they become wrinkled.They will also change their colour from green to brown.All these changes will reduce the production of the plumie during the next spring.
Another method i use to protect the trunks on the plumies and to avoid the problem of big cracks in the trunks after a freeze is wrap them with plumbing insulation that you can buy at home depot.The insulation is cut on 1 side of it so it allows you to wrap it around the plumie with ease.Home depot and other hardware stores sell it in all sizes.You can see the grey wrap in some of my pics i posted not that long ago.
Here is a shot of some 8 month year old seedlings look at the bottom part of plants.
Here is a picture of what they look like in the stores:
You can use another product called Kozy-Coats Water Teepees and fill them up with semi-hot water the day of the freeze:
Please shop around these links are only examples!!

One of the methods i use this winter to keep my plumies warm is the use of a Propane/Natural Gas Heaters..
They are very effective people and not so expensive anymore..
If you choose to use a propane heater made for outdoors let me tell you the rates of the propane.If you choose a 1lb can of propane which you can buy at home depot it will last 4-5 hours on low heat.If you choose a 20lb can it will last you 3-4 days on low heat.Buying a can of propane is a little costly for the first purchase however refills are only $16 dollars per 20lb can down in florida so check your local rates..

Do not put these heaters within 4 feet of any plumie or it will burn the leaves on some of them.These heaters throw out heat 360 degrees so be careful.Propane is not good to use in a closed area and can be dangerous if you breathe too much of it (CO or CO Posioning).

Propane is heavy compare to air so it will settle where as natural gas is lighter and will float in the air stream.Propane combustion is much cleaner than gasoline, though not as clean as natural gas.Both gases when burn will turn into CO which the plants will use.
You can lay some material down under the heater that will reflect the heat at the plumies or lay some firebrick or stone to retain the heat which adds to the heating effect.If it rains you will have a nice big steam plume coming from the heater which the plumies love also.Many times i threw some clean water on the top shield to make the area humid.I also bought some insulation board (4 feet x 8 feet) from home depot which has a shiny foil side and a plastic coating on the other side..
The board is made of some kind of foam which the foil and plastic hold together..
This is excellent insulation and i use it for my green house plus it will reflect light due to it's shiny side.I also use it outside to trap the heat from the heaters in a certain area..
This little effort will save your plants people so good luck..
A few Cautions to consider!

-Do not use plastic alone to cover plants as the plastic may freeze to the plants!!

-The plumie that was threatened by cold temperatures one night can be defoliated by extreme heat under the plastic the next day so be careful if the temps are expecting to get warm the following day..

-Tropical plants cannot survive freezing temperatures and may even decline when
the temperatures reach the mid 40s F. Their internal workings are arranged in such a way that cool temperatures disrupt the chemistry of the plant..

-If the soil is dry water your plumies the morning before the predicted freeze.However,you don't want your plumies to be wet going into the evening hours.The reason for watering the soil is that moist soil retains heat better than dry soil..

-Don't use water to protect your plants from cold weather as commercial growers do. Specific commercial crops can be protected from freezing temperatures with water,as we see in citrus fields. It is the continuous freezing of water on the plants and the subsequent release of heat that is released when water freezes that keeps the plant cells at a temperature about 33 degrees, just above freezing. The layers of ice themselves don't protect plants.Home sprinkler systems do not have the needed flow to protect plants in this manner. As a result, cold damage to plants from inadequate amounts of irrigation water may be more severe..

-Methane (natural gas) and propane (liquified petroleum gas) are about equally explosive. Methane is lighter than air and rises to the ceiling. Propane is heavier than air and sinks to the floor. Mercaptan,a rotten egg scent, is added to colorless and odorless methane and propane gases. Mercaptan's odor varies according to the amount added. The odor can fade with time and storage. A strong rotten egg odor may not mean danger. And a slight odor may not mean safety. Carbon monoxide, a by-product of incomplete combustion of fossil fuels (combustible gas, coal, wood, etc.) disperses fairly evenly in air.When burned with an appropriate supply of oxygen (a 5-to-1 ratio), propane will burn very cleanly, forming only water vapor and carbon dioxide. If starved of oxygen, it could form other molecules, including carbon monoxide. A quick visual check to make sure it is burning cleanly is to inspect the color of the flame blue flame is burning clean, yellow flame is burning dirty. Usually turning the gas down will help, because less oxygen is needed to handle a lower gas flow.
When used properly, propane is safe. Propane gas is not toxic except in very large doses, but it is an asphyxiant. Although high concentrations could displace enough oxygen to cause suffocation, the real dangers of propane are the fire hazard and frostbite from rapid depressurization.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is lighter than air. CO2 and O2 are products of complete combustion, CO is produced when there is incomplete combustion. If all 3 gases are spilled into an area the CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) will drop to the floor and the lighter CO (Carbon Monoxide) will always rise to the ceiling.
Another way to explain this is to compare it to smoke from a fire. Visible smoke from a fire is a particulate which is heavier than air, but it rapidly rises to the ceiling because of the heat. The same applies for CO spilled from an appliance, it will rise to the ceiling and will always be at a higher concentration near the ceiling.

The Molecular weight of:
Air = 28.975
Oxygen = 32.00
Carbon Monoxide = 28.01 Lighter
Nitrogen = 28.0134
Carbon Dioxide = 44.01 Heavier

Here is a test i did for someone using a laser temp gauge with a outside air temp of 72degrees with the humidity around the same.The purpose of this test was to show how
the temps differ from clay pots to plastic and how different kinds of medium can also
play a part.Using your house as a heat source is also a good source of heat..

The first pic shows the surface temp of regular potting soil in a clay pot with no rocks..

This pic shows the pot temp which is influenced by the soil type..

This pic shows the soil temp inside the clay pot with no rocks around 62-63 degrees..

This pic shows the surface temps of a clay pot with rocks..

This pic shows the surface temp of a plastic pot with no rocks just perlite on top and
coconut for the medium..

This pic shows the comparsion of the surface temp and the soil temp of a
plastic pot with rocks (coconut medium)..

This pic shows the pot temps of a plastic pot with coconut medium and rocks
added on top..

This pic shows the bottom stem temp of a plumie in a plastic pot with coco..
After the first 8-14inches the temp remains constant thruout the plant which
will be 5-12 degrees cooler then the first 8-14inches reading..

Ok these last 5 pics show how temps vary around your house..
This pic shows a portion of my backyard and i am around 15 feet away from back wall..

This pic shows what the ground temps are on the wood where i am standing..

This pic shows what the ground temps are inches from a back wall..

This pic shows the ground temps of my brick pavers near my back wall..

Last pic shows what the temps are of a nursery weed cloth on the ground..

Good Luck to you all!!

This message was edited Jan 22, 2007 2:26 PM

Ventura, United States(Zone 10b)

Wow, Robert! This is absolutely fantastic and valuable information. We need to put this link in the FAQ's Sticky Thread. I've written to Terry about updating it, but she hasn't gotten back to me. This is the best compilation of care information that I've seen. Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to do this. It will be so helpful to so many for so many years to come. I can't tell you how important this information is.

There has been much discussion about whether to cut off clearly damaged tissue such as mushy/dark/black tips right away or whether to leave them until spring. I think the consensus has been to leave the dark/black/frozen leaves but trim the dark/black/mushy tips. This makes sense to me. What do you think?

I have one of those point-and-shoot laser temperature instruments that DH got for me at Harbor Freight Tools. It is really neat. You can point at the roots in a container to get the temp and then point at the leaves for a different temp. Dete from Arizona uses it a lot to gage temps. It is so interesting that the leaves are always much cooler than the rest of the plants. I think Dete explained that it was due to transpiration that is occurring. Anyway, it is so helpful to do what you did and go around to the different parts of one's yard to determine the warmest surfaces, etc.

This is just brilliant. Thanks for posting this.

(Zone 9a)

Robert, Thank you, thank you, thank you from those of us on the "shoulder zone" for tropicals like plummies. So far we are OK here but there are a few more weeks when mother nature could surprise us like they did to the California folks.

Clare, I hope I don't have to decide to amputate or leave any tips. LOL

Ventura, United States(Zone 10b)

Me too, Alice:-) I bought two more portable greenhouses which should arrive tomorrow just in case. I still won't be able to protect them all so it is really good to have these tips from Robert.

Davie, FL(Zone 10b)

Your all welcome..
Clare i had to reformat my post to make it easier to read..
I added a few more things regarding propane and gas dangers and a fact section..
I also add a pic of the insulators on some of my seedlings..
The pic was taken for another member and i just remembered the seedlings still had the foam
insulators on them..
If you see any typos let me know!

Davie, FL(Zone 10b)


Too many edits...
I apologize, but your per-day edit limit has been reached. Please wait until tomorrow to make any new edits.

Lol didn't know there was one!
Clare to answer your question!
Sounds fine to me also it's really up to the person on how much work they want to do..
For me i tear/cut them off because of the look and maybe i am inviting a fungus or bug problem by leaving
stress out and semi-dead leaves on the plant..
I tend to think of it as a person with severe frost-byte on a limb..
I also take into consideration the size of the tree/plant and if it can take more stress by me cutting off her leaves and the potential loss of sap.

Ventura, United States(Zone 10b)

Thanks, Robert. Thanks again for all of this hard work and information, which is very valuable to the concerned grower. I intend to read it over again and again;-)

Edited to add: This thread is now included in the FAQ Sticky Thread.

This message was edited Jan 29, 2007 2:47 PM

Cave Creek, AZ

I'm going to copy the information and give it to my friends that lost their plumeria in town.(Phoenix) they have been hard hit.

Ventura, United States(Zone 10b)

This really is wonderful information for the grower to have.

No. San Diego Co., CA(Zone 10b)

Well, I'm armed with info for the future, at least! Our little micro-climate here produced night temperatures in the 20s for over a week - I think it's the first time in about 20 years it's been that low. We even had ice on hubby's new pond - sheesh! I feel sorry for the growers around us - avocados, citrus, etc. Most of the epies are gone, too - heck, even the jade plants died!

I almost put the plumies in the garage this year. As it is, three of the four are mush. The largest one seems to be okay - is there anything special I can do to help it recover?

However, to finish on a more positive note, I'm hoping the apples benefit from the cold - even though they are low chill varieties - they'll be ready to fruit either this year or next! :-)


Ventura, United States(Zone 10b)

So sorry about all the damage, Kathleen. I would wait and see what happens before you cut as you may get new growth from the base or from the part of the trunk below the soil. Placing your plumerias on the warmest surface available, like a heating pad, under lights, like metal halide, will stop any more rot from occurring and help your plumerias to recover. I was just about to answer your epi post when I noticed that someone else did. I would cut off any obvious mush but leave anything that looks like it might survive. Heat here will help also.

This thread is now in the FAQ's section:-)

No. San Diego Co., CA(Zone 10b)

Thanks, Clare, I'll give it a try.


Gilbert, AZ

Wow! I just came across this thread as I was trying to figure out what to do with my plumies planted outside in the ground. The Phoenix area night temps have plunged suddenly and I was in a quandry as to how to handle wintering them. No more! Thank you Robert for all the information!

Tucson, AZ

glad you found the info crista, but we would have helped you out on the southwest forum. :)

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