The coldest weather in nine years is being observed at Montgomery Botanical Center. Over the last week, temperatures have gone below 45 degrees four times, and the coldest on-site thermometer reading (36 degrees) was this morning around 5 am. This morning, ice formed on the lids of the soil bins.
As with all weather situations, there is some amount of preparation that can be done. Sensitive palms, like the Hemithrinax in this photo, are wrapped in burlap when temperatures dip below 50 degrees. In the nursery, the greenhouse is kept sealed and heated, and the most sensitive collections are brought in. Before our coldest hour, right before dawn, the shadehouse irrigation is run.
The weather recovery process is carefully planned. Treatment of the nursery collection is currently underway. Recording and tracking the cold damage is crucial. Thus far, some damage to a few Aiphanes and Zamia is observed, but more damage may become apparent. The entire nursery collection will be treated with fungicide as temperatures return to normal.
Over the years, bouts of cold damage have occurred at The Coconut Grove Palmetum, The Montgomery Foundation, and MBC. Some plants are lost, and much hard work must be done, but active development of the living plant collection continues. The MBC team remains dedicated to these living treasures, despite cold, heat, rain, or wind.