2021 Freeze-5 weeks after
Thankfully, many plants are beginning to show new growth after being assaulted by record-low temperatures in February.
However, we are still not “out of the woods” yet, as some plants may be late to show signs of life. There are many that we KNOW either will not come back or will not come back satisfactorily, so they may be removed/replaced now.
I’d also like to remind everyone that although we did get a bit of rain this week, we have been and are currently under drought conditions. As temperatures warm and new growth appears, remember to begin watering regularly.
First, the plants that are returning may now be pruned back to the new growth or in some cases, back to the ground. Here are some examples:
Any herbaceous perennials such as Turk’s Cap, Plumbago (maybe), Mystic Spires Salvia, Mexican Bush Sage, Black and Blue Salvia, Leadwort Plumbago, Society Garlic, Chinese Ground Orchid, Rock Rose (Pavonia), Cedar Sage, etc.
Turk’s Cap Black and Blue Salvia Plumbago
Any grasses or grass-like plants should be pruned as soon as new growth is seen. Do not wait, as it will be difficult not to tip the new growth if it grows too much before you prune.
Mexican Feather Grass Giant Liriope
Evergreen Sumac, Texas Sage, Texas Mountain Laurel may be pruned back to live growth or to the ground if old and woody.
Texas Mountain Laurel Evergreen Sumac Texas Sage
(not all Mtn. Laurels look this good)
Southern Wax Myrtle may be showing signs of growth in some locations. It may be pruned hard if necessary.
Plants that you might wait for late signs of growth include Sago Palm, Oleander, Pride of Barbados, Esperanza, Windmill Palm.
These are heat-lovers, and may not come back right away. It may be worth the wait, depending on how protected they were.
Plants that may be removed now include Rosemary, both Upright and Trailing, Loquats, and Indian Hawthorn.
Sweet Viburnum, Coppertop Viburnum and most likely Sandankwa Viburnum (although you might wait on this one).
Sweet Viburnum Sandankwa Viburnum
Lantana in most cases will not come back, although Texas Lantana and Lantana camara (the naturalized pink Lantana) may come back in sheltered locations. You can cut them all back now.
Bicolor Iris will likely not fill in satisfactorily. If you really want to try to save it, and it is over 3 years old, dig up the entire clump once it shows new growth and replant only the parts with the new growth.
Jerusalem Sage took a hit and most will not come back.
Mexican Fan Palms, Pindo Palms and Mediterranean Fan Palms most likely will not come back unless they are in a protected area and have a green “spike leaf”.
Mediterranean Fan Palm
Any Agave that are completely “mush”, with no new growth that remains healthy, may be removed now.
Obviously, we cannot list every plant that you are concerned about, but you get the idea. Be patient. We should know by mid-summer what is truly dead or permanently damaged by the freeze.
Backbone is such a great nursery! Over the years I have been in your store many times……but I had no idea there was a blog! Wonderful!
Hawthornes to the point. Large and mature. Freeze damage leaves are like crispy potato chips, but….end of stems have green buds.
From 4′ tall and full, no new growth showing except for stem tips. Prune way back now?
Would appreciate your thoughts.
Most Hawthorns (Raphiolepis) are probably dead.
Thank you for this blog–so helpful after the recent late freeze. One plant that has shown no sign of breaking the sod is my oak leaf acanthus (bear’s breeches). I cannot find any information online to answer my question: how long do I wait for signs of life before I replace whatever is left (rotten roots?) of the beautiful plant that delighted me last spring, summer, and fall, when I looked from my kitchen window?
Acanthus mollis is a Zone 7 plant. It is never one of the first to break ground in the spring. I would give it some time.
Hello, thank you so much for this post! I have a feeling that my 2 year old coppertop Viburnum is toast due to the “super freeze” here in zone 7b (it is brown like the pictures you posted) – but I just wanted to double check and make sure I am understanding correctly. Are you saying I should go ahead and remove the whole thing if it hasn’t started showing signs of life, or that I should go ahead and cut off all the dead branches/leaves to make room for new growth? Thank you so much!!
Yes, it is time to cut the dead growth down. I cut mine back to about 3″ from the ground and it is putting out some green shoots. Whether it will ever grow into a healthy shrub is yet to be determined.
Perfect, I will do the same. Keeping my fingers crossed for both of us- Thanks again so much!