“Mild Winter Brings Head Start”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana
Here along the Gulf Coast, our winters are never severe, but we do get some pretty cold weather. It may not last long, but many garden plants that are hardy here will freeze to the ground and come back when spring approaches. The last two winters had some very cold temperatures, and I did lose a few plants, also some plants which had never frozen back did. I was very surprised that in the last two years the agapanthus was knocked back almost completely since that had never happened before. But this year has been different. Oh, we have had cold weather which required heavy jackets or coats but only two episodes where the temperature dipped to about 27 for a short while.
While I did protect my tender container plants, everything in the garden was left on its own. Most will survive, but the tender summer plants don’t. Or so I thought. Imagine my surprise when I saw a coleus, yes a coleus, sprouting back. I could hardly believe my eyes. Coleus, that summer plant which melts at the first light frost, was coming back.
I have never had coleus survive even our mildest winters before this year. Another plant that survived this winter is the wax begonia. It is in a slightly protected area, so that helped, but it looks like I won’t have to buy any begonia this year.
Next, I noticed sprouts on the moonflower vine. This was planted in a hanging basket that was left to face the elements unprotected. In fact, I had purchased moonflower seeds to plant in this very basket last Sunday. Just as I began to take the basket down to clear out the old, dead vine, I saw sprouts.
Other plants that ALWAYS freeze back have not this year. Unfazed by the cold were the pink bower vine, white Justicia, Turk’s Turban, firespike, night blooming jasmine, and angel’s trumpet. Since the firespike always freezes back and takes a while to get back to blooming, it will be nice to have the blooms earlier. I know the hummingbirds will appreciate this too, since we have had two females spend the winter with us here. Look at these gorgeous red leaves.
Another survivor, the Angel Trumpet, was very small, but not only did it not freeze back; it now has new growth.
The only reason I can think of that would account for all these plants not being freeze damaged is that we have had a dry, cold winter with no warm ups. Usually, our temperatures fluctuate from cold to hot to cold, but not this year. So, the plants must have adjusted to the cold better than most years and combined with fewer actual freezes were able to make through this winter.
Seems like there will be a lot of plants in my garden this year that will have a head start on the growing season.