2011 Freeze Update April 1

So many questions!!! Is it dead or alive? Do I cut it back or wait? Should I replace it with something else?

Unfortunately, it is impossible to provide a “blanket answer” to these important questions. Each situation is different, and each outcome will also be different.

Is it dead or alive?   At this point, if it has not begun leafing out, the best way to evaluate it is to see if the twigs are still flexible. If they snap, cut them down. They may still be “scratching green”, but that is not always an indicator of viability.

This is probably the last update that we will have on the freeze, as I am sure you have heard before that “time will tell”.  Please note that this information is for CENTRAL TEXAS, and that each situation is likely to be different. 

Here are the plants that are most likely not going to survive (but there may be exceptions!):


Rosemary                                             Esperanza

Sandankwa Viburnum                    Loropetalum

Confederate Star Jasmine              Fig Ivy

Olive trees                                            Lantana

Waxleaf Ligustrum                           Loquat

Yellow Butterfly Vine                       Indian Hawthorn

Gardenia                                               Bamboo

Pride of Barbados                              Plumbago

Bottlebrush                                          Sago Palm

Mediterranean Fan Palm               Mexican Fan Palm     

Pomegranate                                       Pampas Grass     

Thinleaf Sotol                                      Most Agave

Golden Barrel Cactus                       Thryallis

Gold Zest Cestrum                             Citrus

Jap. Blueberry Tree                          Huisache

Bicolor Iris                                           Some Orn. Grasses

Carolina Jessamine



Here are some plants that may (or may not) come back from a stump or from the roots. If the tops are dead, cut them down:

Wax Myrtle                                          Oleander

Texas Sage                                            Fig Tree

Nandina                                                Pyracantha

Shrimp Plant                                        Salvia greggii

Some Crape Myrtles                          Loropetalum

Firecracker Fern                                 Evergreen Sumac       

Texas Mountain Laurel                     Bay Tree

Primrose Jasmine                               Anacacho Orchid                        



Should I replace with it something else?:

Please remember that this was a “once in a lifetime” event. (We hope.)

The reason that we have been bringing in many of these plants is that we have needed deer resistant plants or drought resistant plants. Our plant pallet needed to be expanded to do that. Yes, native plants are definitely the survivors, but many residential applications require plants for screening or color that may be a bit out of our
“native zone”. The “Southwest” landscape craze has made Agave, Cacti and Yucca more popular.

Many of the plants lost were actually deemed cold hardy to Zone 8, which is the Zone where we live. Unfortunately, we did not have a “Zone 8” winter storm. Winter storm URI was so much colder and occurred after we had experienced a relatively warm winter. This set the stage for extreme loss.

So, should we replace with the same plants?

In most cases, the answer is YES.

Rosemary is evergreen, deer resistant and drought resistant. And you can cook with it.

Texas Sage is evergreen, deer resistant and drought resistant. It provides summer blooms.

Sandankwa Viburnum is evergreen, deer resistant and grows in sun AND shade. It is great for screening.

Agave are drought resistant, evergreen and deer resistant. There is NO substitute for their form.

Esperanza, Bottlebrush and Pride of Barbados give us summer color like no others.

This is just the beginning of the list of plants that we have incorporated into our landscapes that there are really no substitutes for. If you can think of substitutes that would have survived our Winter Storm Uri and are also drought resistant, please let me know, because I am struggling.

The good news is that most of our native trees, shrubs and perennials are starting to come back. Here are some for your consideration:

Mexican Buckeye                                Red Buckeye

Agarita                                                   Elbow Bush

Cedar Elm                                             Bur Oak

Chinquapin Oak                                   Yarrow

Gregg’s Blue Mistflower                   Turk’s Cap

Texas Persimmon


So, what should we have learned from this winter storm?

First, do not plant too many of one variety of plant. If it is lost to ANY reason, the loss is BIG.

Second, plant the more tender plants on the South-Southeast side of a structure for protection. Avoid Northern exposures for these plants.

And third, never take Mother Nature for granted!