The cold snap from the previous post lasted that entire weekend. Out of an abundance of caution, I kept the outdoor orchids wrapped under towels and shirts, while the potted orchids were kept inside. On Monday, winds died down and temperatures became more seasonal.
It was time for the great unwrapping.
I first tackled the two vanilla bean orchids planted in the ground, the ones I had wrapped in old shirts to give them a warm hug. At first glance, I noticed one plant had a yellow leaf peeking out from the lower hem of the shirt. It must have gotten left out of the hug in my attempt to protect the new growth at the tip of this climbing plant.
Once I untied the sleeves and unbuttoned the shirt, though, the green vine was as green as it was before the cold front.
The nearby ginger plant, which had not been protected, looked as if it had taken a beating from this recent cold front and the one at Christmas.
Leaves were dried and curled, yellowed and browned. I clipped out the most damaged sections to clean it up and I’m hoping for the best.
If it doesn’t recover, I can divide other gingers I have in the yard and transplant the division to this area — or, use it as an excuse to try something new from the nursery.
Next, it was time for the orchids snuggled beneath towels. I carefully removed the staples that held the towels in place and gently removed them away from the leaves and flower spikes.
One orchid had been in full bloom before the cold snap. Once unwrapped, the flowers looked tired and wilted. Well, it was a nice try, I thought.
I gave the orchid a drink of water and a day later, the flowers perked up to continue their cycle.
On the other side of the yard, I was most worried about a white orchid. Before the cold arrived, its flower spikes were lined with plump blossoms — and I didn’t want a repeat of the lost blossoms of a nearby purple orchid following the Christmas cold front.
To my immense relief, the white blossoms were full and healthy looking.
My excitement grew a few days later, when this happened.
Just as surprising was to see how some plants weathered the cold like champions, like this bromeliad. It started flowering just before the cold front — but it never seemed to notice. Its flower has continued to mature.
I think the greatest surprise was the double-red hibiscus. Prior to the cold front, it was full of buds and I worried the cold would destroy them. It didn’t. In fact, this hibiscus has never looked so good — and I think I have the cold to thank for that! Iguana activity has slowed to a crawl and/or a cold-induced coma.
Since the great unwrapping, the calendar has turned a page. It’s now February and Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter. Naturally, the little varmint made his prediction while the northeast was in the grip of a polar vortex. I’m sure a lot of people had a few choice words for Phil.
As you can imagine, the hysteria over groundhog predictions is lost on South Floridians. I mean, we may get hysterical over a 50-degree day — but not six more weeks of Florida winter.
In any event, I wondered if Florida had its own groundhog forecaster. A Google search later, I learned that the Sunshine State does not. It does, though, have a conch that makes its home at the Florida Keys Aquarium Experience. Unlike Phil, the conch emerged from its shell — and like Phil, it saw its shadow.
That’s six more weeks of winter — Florida winter — and that’s great news for Florida tourism (which increases its advertising budget on the coldest days up north to lure travelers southward) and for my ground orchids.
Following the cold snap, they died back to the ground. My thought was to not dig them up, but to leave the ground orchids alone. The ground never froze, so whatever was buried should be alive.
As of this writing, new green shoots are appearing — because six more weeks of Florida winter is six more weeks of Everywhere-Else spring.