Here comes the cold again: Florida braces for chilly couple of days

Brian Galligan, the director of horticulture at the Naples Botanical Garden, says common home gardening plants are also susceptible to freezes. Tender annuals, herbs and vegetables are among the most vulnerable plants.

Here are Galligan’s tips for protecting plants:

■ For temperatures hovering over freezing a simple cloth draped over the plants and firmly attached to the ground works great.

■ If the temperature drops around freezing, or frost is possible, a small heater, heating pad, or heat lamp, placed safely within will increase the temperature slightly and reduce damage.

■ Irrigation needs to be cut off, preferably days in advance to reduce the loss of heat stored in the ground and increase the plants ability to naturally defend itself. Icing over the plant does work in a freeze, but is detrimental in near freezing temperatures.

■ After a cold event inspect your plants for damage. Take note of those plants showing signs of stress. This can be leaf drop, burned looking or bronzed leaves. These plants need to be covered for future cold spells. Leaving the damaged foliage on the plant is good because it will act as a buffer for later frost.

■ For visibly damaged palms, target the bud with a peroxide drench soon after the cold passes. This will reduce secondary infections by insects and fungus which are drawn to the damaged tissue.

■ Fertilizing and heavy watering should be held back until signs of new growth are evident.

MIAMI — Floridians, brace yourselves for a chilly couple of days.

An arctic front has made its way to the state, threatening subfreezing temperatures Monday night. The frigid weather is expected to linger until at least midweek.

Gov. Charlie Crist has declared a state of emergency to relax restrictions in getting harvested crops moved to processing centers before the cold kills them.

State officials are urging residents to use safe heating sources and bring pets inside. And the Florida Highway Patrol warns that it's illegal to leave a car running — even if it does keep the inside toasty while you make a quick stop.

Through the evening hours, skies will be clearing out and temperatures will be falling.

By the time we get to tomorrow morning, it will be freezing across Southwest Florida.

The only exception would be right along the coastline, but even there temperatures will be in the mid 30s.

Inland areas will drop into the mid and upper 20s, making this cold burst even colder than the one we had last week.

Click here for NBC-2's complete weather report

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