Weather. The one thing we talk about but truly cannot do anything about. But in Southwest Houston, the weather is an issue we MUST contend with. Like for next week.
Okay, so Houston is not a city with a true winter. (Like Buffalo, NY, for example.) At the same time, it’s not like South Florida where there’s seldom a freeze. The temperature is supposed to drop to 28° on Tuesday night – so Houston, we definitely have a problem!
Went through this last winter even worse. I knew there would be a bad freeze because we always seem to have a harsh winter when we have a harsh summer. For instance, one of the worst winters ever was in 1983 after Hurricane Alicia hit earlier in the year. Summer of 2009 was BRUTAL for heat, and in winter 2009 we had snow on Dec. 4 and for 10 days in January had below-freezing temps. (Snow in Houston is so rare, the Dec. 4 event spawned its own Facebook page.)
This past summer was really hot, so here comes the really cold.
Okay, so we just cover plants or figure they will handle it? Not exactly. The problem is we have this mentality that Houston has a truly tropical climate. And that works most of the time. It works long enough (years) for us to forget about cold snaps. We plant palms that actually do all right once they’re a little older; but we also plant gingers and other tropical plants that really have no business being anywhere but Southernmost Florida or Hawaii.
We met some folks last spring who had moved to the Texas Hill Country from the Clear Lake/NASA area. They had visited friends back home after the January 2010 freeze and said the devastation to plants was worse than what Hurricane Ike had done in 2008. Scary.
Yes, I covered my split-leaf philodendron and saved the big stalks. But we hauled off like 12 huge bags of frozen, brown mushy leaves. And the ginger – forget it, back to the ground. Houston looked really bleak after that 10 days of freeze.
So it’s been a year. The philo has recovered completely (better than ever!) and the ginger is coming back … and I’ve recently seen what even one night of 31° can do. So I’ll be covering everything up for sure. Of course, with the philo being about 20 feet wide and 8 feet tall, that’s not an easy task, but we’ve bought a HUGE tarp and that worked really well last winter.
(If you want some great information about how to protect your plants during a freeze in Texas and you’re on Facebook, click on this Neil Sperry Note. He’s a Texas gardening legend.)
Pipes freezing … oh well, that’s a topic for another post.