The Joys of Zone 10a

This February, our northern neighbors anxiously gathered around Punxsutawney Phil hoping he’d see his shadow…he didn’t. So the country will resign itself to six more weeks of winter, except in southeast Florida: here, it’s springtime!

Recent social media selfies of Floridians in shorts complaining about the frigid temperatures should be about over — but we may be surprised. February is traditionally the coldest and driest month of the year with March following February’s example.

The majority of Martin County is in Zone 10a of the plant hardiness zones, giving us long growing seasons, mild dry winters, and hot wet summers.

The plant hardiness zone maps, officially called the USDA Hardiness Zone Map, divides North America into separate planting zones with each zone being 10 degrees warmer or colder than it’s neighboring zone. The first map was published in 1927 with 8 hardiness zones. Today, the US Department of Agriculture and the US National Arboretum work together using data from almost 15,000 weather stations.

Recently, we had some very cool temps in the 30s. There are many plants that can survive freezing temperatures for a couple of hours without experiencing cellular damage and if the temperatures quickly rise after a freeze.

A great way to protect plants from extreme weather, specifically cold here in Zone 10b is to create microclimates to reduce exposure to the potential damaging weather. These are areas with good wind protection; near ponds, between structures, among rock gardens, or even in courtyards and lanais. 

Over the next few weeks you may discover some cold damage on your turf, plants and palms. Signs of cold damage can be dark purple leaves, leaves turning yellow and dropping, or leaves turning brown. UF/IFAS offers information on how cold temperatures affect palms and how to treat them after a cold weather event.

According to the National Weather Service in Melbourne, it looks like the worst is behind us. Predictions are for a weak La Niña with below normal rainfall and storminess. It’s time to clean out the beds and prepare for another glorious landscape for the warm months of 2021. Oh, and did we mention… our landscape crews are experts at cleaning out beds, planting or moving trees, and sprucing up lawns and gardens!