The recent deep freeze has many concerned about the health of their plants. Permanent damage occurs to plants when conditions are severe, prolonged or when the temperature suddenly changes. We definitely experienced sudden severe cold temperatures. I know y’all are anxious to see the extent of the damage, but we need to put the brakes on just a bit because there isn’t much we can do right now. We are in a wait-and-see pattern because the real extent of damage won’t be known until plants break their winter dormancy and begin to grow – or in some cases, not grow. For the time being, keep those trimmers in storage!!
You will likely see brown, black, or mushy leaves and stems on perennials. Most of the hardy perennials will come back from their crowns and roots, especially if they were mulched in well. Again, be sure to look for new growth in the spring before cutting back or planning for replacement.
Damage is most noticeable on broadleaf evergreen trees and shrubs, if they were damaged by the freezing temperatures they might be showing brown or black foliage and may be dropping damaged leaves. Plants such as hollies, southern magnolia, boxwood, loropetalum, aucuba, and nandinas will all fall into this category. Try not to panic as they may be just fine and could flush back out in the spring. You don’t want to jump the gun and remove plants that appear to be dead, but actually survived the freezing temperatures. Unless you just can’t wait, we have plenty for you to go ahead and replant with here at Needham’s Nursery!
One easy way to check for life in woody plants is to scratch the bark with your thumbnail or a knife. A live stem will be bright green and white just under the bark. If it’s brown or black, then that portion of the stem is likely dead. However, that doesn’t mean that the whole plant is dead. With the warmer weather on the way, I know y’all are anxious to get back outside, but this is a time when patience is vital. Be patient until new growth begins in the spring before doing any pruning or removal of stems or branches!
So in closing no one panic just yet. We will see y’all in spring!