Cold Weather Protection For Mandevillia & Mounds Of Dirt In Turf

Question:

 We have two Mandevilla plants in containers on our patio, and we're concerned about how best we can protect them from the cold weather. Would it be a good idea to wrap the plants with plastic completely?   

Answer:

  •  Keeping a Mandevilla, or any other plant, wrapped up like an Egyptian Mummy all winter is not recommended. When they're unwrapped in the spring, you'll find an ugly mess from the decaying tissue and mold from the moisture that couldn't escape.
  • Instead, I'd apply Bonide Wilt Stop. Wilt Stop is a liquid that forms a protective barrier when dried between the leaves and the cold temperatures and still allows the leaves to breathe. I like to call it 'Chap Stick' for plants.
  • You should also protect Citrus, Bougainvilleas, Hibiscus, Jade, and other cold-sensitive plants. Cold is a desiccant, which means it pulls moisture out of the leaves, causing the plant cells to collapse, and turns the foliage and stems a brown or black color.
    • You could also move these containers as close to a structure as possible and cover them with a protective plant blanket available at your favorite garden center. This is the most effective way to capture the escaping heat.
    • A string a holiday lights on the plants and under the plant blanket is another method of warming the cold air. Clear plastic is not recommended unless it's kept off the leaves. The cold will travel through plastic sheeting.
    • Once the freeze or frost warnings have come down, you remove the covering.
  • Typically, we have three to four frost warnings per winter. Our coldest nighttime temperatures are just before sunrise. How long the temperatures stay at or below freezing after the sun rises determines the extent of the damage.
  • Also,  water those rain protected plants every three to four weeks. Water stress is the primary reason why container plants suffer more damage than a similar plant in the ground.
  • It is inevitable that once every fifteen to twenty-five years will get a killing frost. Hence, the above precautions will not be sufficient. And finally, you don't prune off the frost damage until mid-March as it acts as an additional covering from late-season cold weather. 

Question:

 My grass has mounds of dirt in it. Someone says its grubs. I'm not too sure what to do?

Answer:

  • Grubs do not cause this type of damage.
  • They are not anatomically structured to make mounds or churn soil. Grubs feed only on the grassroots under the soil surface. They should be easily seen with the naked eye.
  • I'd suspect that you have a gopher(s). Flooding, trapping, poison baits, and gas are a few of the many solutions that unfortunately are not full proof. The one that works for you is a trial and error process. You’ll find more information on the differences between moles and gophers in my September 20 column in the Thanks For Asking tab.