Weather.com predicts frost tonight for all of the San Francisco Bay Area. When I checked on the garden this morning, some of my less hardy plants were showing signs of distress already from the cold: the leaves of the magnificent Charles Grimaldi brugmansia were droopy; its pendulous, trumpet-shaped flowers collapsing inwards, as if huddling for protection. My guava tree, which I kept potted so it could be moved to the garage when the worst of winter weather arrived, has its leaves turning purple. I don’t know if either of these plants will survive and flower and fruit next year.
I bought a frost protecting sheet from Dale Hardware just in time; but the cold has kept me indoors. I’ll have to brave the chill and give the poor guava a blanket; it was a gift for my husband who loves guavas. Guava trees are hard to find, even here in zone 9b. So, when I found some healthy trees being sold by Lowe’s at reasonable rates, I quickly picked one up. It didn’t flower at all this year, though it grew well. Our neighbor has a mature guava tree which doesn’t seem to be much affected by the cold. Although, since I have never seen it produce any fruit, I can’t be certain.
I have two potted unnamed tropical hibiscus and the amazingly colored ‘Spin the Bottle’ hibiscus in the ground, all of which turned to black mush by spring this year. I pruned the branches that were obviously damaged; for the rest, I scraped the woody surface until I found firm, healthy green tissue underneath and pruned back all the damaged parts above this point. Both the potted hibiscus recovered well, bloomed all through summer and most of the fall. ‘Spin the Bottle’ didn’t fare too well – it produced very little new growth, leaves stayed pale green and there was just one measly bloom. If it loses too much tissue this year, I’ll have to get rid of it. It’s situated in prime real estate surrounded by dahlias that grew to be as tall as me! I think a stand of ‘Tropicanna’ cannas would complement the dahlias beautifully!