FROSTS & FREEZES
Protecting Your Plants from the Cold
When the weather calls for freezing temperatures, don’t forget about protecting your plants. Dramatic cold fronts with strong winds, like Texans have seen recently, can damage plants inside and out. Many plants can handle slow, steady cold weather, but the back and forth is harder to manage. While you cannot fully protect plants from a freeze, you can take a few actions to help minimize damage.
The best barriers for plants in the ground are opaque covers such as sheets, blankets, or cardboard boxes, but wait until early evening to cover the plants. You want them to absorb as much sun radiation as possible. Make sure the cover extends to the ground, to keep out the wind, but don’t let it touch the plants.
Container plants are more susceptible to freeze, because their roots are more exposed. Take them inside or to a garage when possible. If that is not an option, water them well the day before the freeze, and pile on mulch, leaves, or hay. The moist soil can help moderate temperature extremes.
After the freeze, do not wash off plants. That can raise the temperature too quickly and damage cell tissues. Also, wait to prune damaged plants until the spring. The dead foliage can provide a barrier from the cold.
Take Care of Texas Air Activity Poster - Educational poster showing how you can Take Care of Texas to improve environmental quality. Activities are included on the back, such as a word search and a maze. You can order FREE copies on the TCOT publications website.
REUSE and SAVE MONEY
The Texas Facilities Commission operates a State and a Federal Surplus Property Program in Texas. Both programs are excellent opportunities for organizations such as counties, cities, schools, and nonprofits in your community to save money.
Federal Surplus Property Program:
The Federal Surplus Property Program is based out of warehouses in San Antonio and Fort Worth. The federal program obtains property from the federal government and donates the property only to qualified organizations (such as state agencies, cities, counties, and schools) for a small handling fee. They have a wide variety of property available through the federal program. Some commonly available items include heavy equipment, tools, generators, fire trucks, trailers, vehicles, and furniture.
State Surplus Property Program:
The state program is a little different in that unlike the federal program, state surplus property is offered for sale to the general public. After a ten day posting period, where only qualified entities can purchase, the state surplus property goes to the Austin warehouse to be sold to the general public. TFC also offers state surplus property for sale to the general public through online auctions at www.lonestarauctioneers.com. Some commonly available items through the state surplus program include office furniture, office supplies, knives, multi-tools, cars, trucks, and SUVs.
For more information on the State and Federal Surplus Property Programs and to view available inventory, please visit their website: http://tfc.state.tx.us/divisions/supportserv/ or contact Megan Sim at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-463-4551.
Contrary to popular belief, the holiday plant is not poisonous.
Here are some guidelines to help keep your poinsettia alive during the holiday season.
Light and Temperature:
Be sure the plant is well wrapped when you take it outside on your trip home, because exposure to low temperatures for even a short time can injure leaves and bracts. Place your poinsettia near a sunny window and away from cold drafts or excessive heat. Poinsettias are tropical plants and thrive at temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees.
Examine the soil daily, and water only when it feels dry. Water enough to soak the soil to the bottom of the pot. Then discard the excess water, because it deprives the roots of oxygen. If you don't water enough, the plant will wilt, and the lower leaves will drop. If you water too much, the lower leaves will yellow and then drop.
For more guidelines and selecting and caring for your poinsettia, see GO TEXAN.
An estimated 2.65 billion holiday cards are sold each year in the United States, enough to fill a football field ten stories high! Consider sending electronic holiday cards this year.