Winter Burn 2015

winter1Hi, friends, and fellow Gardening enthusiasts. Is everyone enjoying this snowy winter? I have had many interesting discussions as to how friends, acquaintances, and colleagues are handling it. How am I handling it? Right now it is snowing outside, and I am enjoying Ludwig Van (Beethoven) via Apple TV. Last storm I listened to Tchaikovsky’s “Winter Dreaming”, (3 times). My cat, Bernie Williams, just likes to stare out the window via Blu-ray heated cat bed.

Well, now due to the current temperatures in the Metropolitan Area, we have another winter that is causing quite a bit of problems in homes and the Indoor Plant Industry. We are now dealing with the added problems resulting in winter burn, cold damage, or whatever you may wish to call it. Those of us with extensive houseplant collections, and or those of us that care for tropical plant material in offices, hotels, condos, restaurants, building lobbies, homes, etc., have our work cut out for us until the weather gets warmer.

winter2On Friday, I was about to water plants in a building Lobby in downtown Newark, and had a very ugly surprise. Someone left a lobby door open, and burned a 2 story Ficus Lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig). I have nurtured this tree for at least 5 years. The under-planting of Pothos was also burned; these plants were affected by last year’s cold temperature at the 2013-2014Holiday season, but pulled through with some sustained winter damage. The Pothos never returned to 100% health, but hung on and re-grew in a somewhat slow fashion. The burnt coloration of this plant, you may notice, is different than some other plant burn photos that appear later in this article.

On Wednesday, in one of our customers’ condominium Lobby, I noticed the effects of winter burn on plants in several different areas. Some plants by the front door were winter3affected, and some were burned by leaves touching exterior windows, and some were affected by being in drafty places. Other plant material was damaged by areas of rooms that were below the comfort temperatures of tropical plants. Pothos, for one, are not happy below 60 degrees indoors for sustained periods of time. I have seen them fail below 49 degrees. Remember that tropical plants can go dormant also, such as our lawns and trees do, although this plant material does not however seem to have the resilience of many winter-hardy plants. The photo left shows typical leaf damage to Dracaena “Janet Craig”. The frozen cells turn black, and cannot re-grow, or “grow out” of cell death.

winter4To the right, is damage to Dracaena Warneckii “Lemon Lime”. I hope that mentioning the locations (paragraph above), as realized by the damage, will cause you to think of what kinds of indoor plant problems can arise from below normal inside temperatures. Checking near drafty windows, doors, and air vents may protect your houseplants from impending harm until our temperatures stabilize into warmer weather. I just spent some time last week, as I do every winter, further cold- proofing my basement with fiberglass insulation, and foam board.  Until the warm weather is finally here, we need to be on our toes in regards to indoor temperatures for pets and plants for their comfort, health, and safety.

As for how are we all coping with this winter? I notice that we all like to complain!
Thanks for reading- I hope that you have enjoyed this article.

Written By: Everett Fink

IMG_3228Everett Fink is a Certified Rutgers Master Gardener, Certified Pesticide applicator, and N.J. State licensed Home Improvement Contractor. Everett was designated Top Tier Designer at Sponzilli Landscape, and currently Owns Property Details LLC, in New Jersey.

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