December 28, 2014
Protecting your tropical plants from the cold in Phoenix, Arizona
The best thing to do is to give them only morning sun, and to give them overhead protection, from a tree, or an overhang. And that's why this area in The Tropical Paradise is *prime real estate*. It's against an east-facing wall, and it's under a tree.
In the summer, of course, the tree offers much-needed shade, and the plants here get the benefit of afternoon shade from the house. But in the winter, where it can get to freezing and below, there are also benefits.
The morning sun warms up this area as quickly as possible. The days are short in the winter, and your tropical plants need as much sunshine, and warmth, as they can get. And at night, having an overhang, such as a tree, helps to trap in whatever warmth there is. That's because, if you remember from your high school science class, heat rises. If it can be trapped, even a little, that will help. This area becomes a *pocket* of slightly-warmer air in the winter at night. Conversely, out in the open the heat escapes easily, and you will get more frost damage on your plants.
So, there are limited areas where I can grow the most tender tropicals. Out in the wide open, I plant more hardly plants, like agaves. They also do better in full sun in the summer!
I'm keeping an eye on the overnight lows, looking for freezing temperatures. I haven't seen any yet, and I was glancing at the forecast and it looks like it will be a warm January. But I don't really trust long-range forecasts, I'll check every night in January. By February here, we're safe from frosts.
Posted by Brad Hall