We have had some very damaging frosts around Melbourne this winter. Low-lying areas such as around creeks have been the worst affected. One of the areas I have seen the worst damage is Hurstbridge a suburb north east off Melbourne. There I have seen the surface of large water features holding two thousand litres freeze and the ground frozen like an ice-skating rink. Plants that normally tolerate the normal winter frosts we have had in past winters have been burnt this year such as mature Eucalypt trees. To try and help plants that have been burnt make it through winter there are a few things you can do. Firstly don’t prune plants, the dead foliage will help shield the undamaged foliage through winter and pruning encourages new growth which is more susceptible to frost damage. Don’t fertilize any damaged plants until frosts are finished for the season. Do give a treatment of seaweed solution once a fortnight through the rest of winter, this will give plants a better chance of survival. Cover plants with hessian if possible this may lessen the amount of frost damage, however the dew on the hessian may also cause it to freeze. Place plants under the canopy of other trees or house eves if possible. There are a few products on the market, such as envy, that claim to help protect plants from frost, always use as outlined in the directions. Hopefully some of these tips can help your plants make it through these damaging winter frosts we are experiencing.
Melbourne experiance quite a few frosty mornings in winter and sometimes in early spring. They happen in areas of lower alttitude so if you are close to a creek at the bottom of a hill you are more likely to experience a frost. Plants that are frost sensitive should not be pruned coming into winter as prunning encourages new growth which is more delicate and suseptable to frost damage.
If you would like to protect plants from frost there are some products avaliable on the market that claim to protect plants from frost damage when sprayed on the foliage. Placing plants under the canopy of other trees helps or against a north facing wall where the radient heat keeps plants a bit warmer. If you have an automatic watering system set it to come on at about 5 am as it is harder to freeze a larger volume of water. However in some areas it gets so cold its better to avoid frost sensitive plants alltogether. This is a list of some of the more common frost sensitive plants, Callistemon, Kangaroo paw, Agonis, Limonium, Helliothorpe, Plectranthus, Hymenospormum, Strobilanthes, Ginger, Taggets, Lilly pillies, Ficus, Bougainvilleas, Bird of paridise, Hibiscus, Geraniums, Zinnias, Celosia, Bannanas, Strawberries, Elephant ears, Salvias, Citrus, Bergonias, Palms and all tropical plants and succulents.