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!):
Sandankwa Viburnum Loropetalum
Confederate Star Jasmine Fig Ivy
Olive trees Lantana
Waxleaf Ligustrum Loquat
Yellow Butterfly Vine Indian Hawthorn
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
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
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
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!