Winterizing Fruit Trees in South Florida

Preparing your Fruits Trees for the Winter Months

Winterizing Fruit Trees In South Florida-apple-tree-in-the-snow
An apple tree in the snow

The cooler months are finally here and as the temperatures continue to dip it’s not too late to winterize or prepare your fruit trees to survive the colder months as it sets in. Making preparations now will ensure that your fruit trees are healthy and in top shape, once the warmer seasons return. The steps that we are about to discuss have proven to be effective in fruit tree winter protection.  Let’s continue our discussion below as we take a closer look at winterizing fruit trees in South Florida.

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Tips for Fruit Trees Winter Protection

Thorough Fall Cleanup-The first step in the right direction when winterizing your fruit trees for the winter month is doing a thorough fall cleanup, the reason for this is to prevent diseases and pest infestation. The removal of leaves will discourage insects seeking a harbourage or overwintering in the leaf litter, remove fruits that have dropped or are still on the tree along with fruits that have rotted.

Pruning- Before caring out pruning procedures ensure that your hand pruner is sterilized to prevent the spread of disease, the best time to prune fruit trees is during the colder months because most fruits trees are deciduous and drop their leaves during the winter months but once the warm season returns new leaves will emerge. Because deciduous become naked (lose their leaves) during the winter months makes it easier to see what to remove.

The pruning procedures should be carried out in December and early February, this will discourage new growth from emerging that can be easily winter killed the reason for pruning this time of the year is your fruit tree would have gone into dormancy. Once you begin pruning look for diseased, dying, or dead branches and remove them first. Branches that grow straight up should be trimmed as well. A word of caution here, when pruning ensure that all of the diseased wood is removed because even if little remains can spread over time and cause extreme damage. Branches that are too thick for a hand pruner can be pruned with a pruning saw or lopper shears.

The Importance of Mulching- Applying mulch at the base of your trees is so important because mulch act as insulation and will help to protect the plant’s root’s from being killed because of winter frost. The roots of plants are important because plant roots are responsible for the uptake of water and nutrients and also help to anchor and stabilize a tree. When applying mulch at the base of your tree place the mulch in a circular or donut shape pattern. Ensure that the mulch that’s applied is 2-4 inches thick and with a distance or spacing of 6-inches from the tree trunk, mulch that’s piled up against the tree trunk will encourage root rot.  Consider using straw and wood chips that decompose slowly.

Water Application

Before the ground freezes, it is good to give your plants a good drink of water (water deeply), this will encourage stronger roots along with insulation in preparing for dormancy.

How to Protect Potted Fruit trees

Container Gardening- In the case of potted fruit trees what do we do to offer winter protection? potted plants are more susceptible to winter damage because the roots are not as protected as fruit trees that are ground directly in the ground. Protecting the roots of your potted trees requires a roll of chicken wire, a bale of straw, and not hay because hay contains weed seeds. You will also need a bit of extra wire, and a wire cutter. However, containers that can be easily moved with some help can be taken to a more secure spot to protect from the winter frost.

  • Roll out the chicken wire in a circle around your fruit tree pot, once you have accomplished this ensure that 6-inches of space is left between the chicken wire circle and the pot
  • With the wire cutter cut the chicken wire to size and secure or tie the loose ends or parts with the extra bit of wire
  • Place the straw on top of the soil to insulate the plant’s roots, also stuff the insides of the chicken wire with the straw, and make sure that the entire container is stuffed or covered with the straw

Once the weather warms up you can proceed to move the chicken wire form around the pot, the straw that was used as insulation can be placed or spread in your garden areas such as a flower or vegetable garden, or placing them around shrubs and trees can help also. This move of spreading the staw around your garden plants will help to retain moisture, suppress weeds, keep the soil temperature cool and as the straw breaks down will add nutrients to the soil.

Bonus Tips

  • To reduce the risk of damage select varieties that are hardy to your climate
  • Before the first freeze water deeply in the fall, especially during a dry spell
  • To avoid new growth late in the season avoid fertilizing past mid-summer

The Final word on winterizing fruit trees in South Florida

Protecting our fruit trees doing the wintertime is so important, just as we depend on our fruit trees to bear delicious fruits so in like manner our fruit trees are depending on us to protect them during the colder months. Let’s be good to our fruit trees by following these simple yet effective steps that have proven to be effective so when the warmer seasons arrive your fruit tree will be all set to produce a sweet delicious bountiful harvest both for you and your family to enjoy. These simple steps we have discussed will pay off in huge ways.


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About the author

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Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.