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Friday - April 23, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Freeze damage to dwarf Barbados Cherry in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

This past winter was colder than usual here, in the southwestern outskirts of Austin, but I am surprised that my established Dwarf Barbados Cherry, on the south side of my house froze completely to the ground. There is a little green sprig that has come out at its base, but sadly, the rest of the beautiful shrub has had to be removed. I hope that it can grow out again! Is the dwarf variety less hardy than the standard size? Thank you!

ANSWER:

This USDA Plant Profile shows that Malpighia glabra (wild crapemyrtle) does indeed grow in Travis County, although is not shown as growing in any other of the counties around here. In this article from the Fort Bend Master Gardeners, Dwarf Barbados Cherry, we learned that it is considered just a smaller selection, 3 to 4 ft., of the regular plant, which can grow 9 to 12 ft. Here is an excerpt from this article: "Ornamentally, it is considered a very desirable small shrub for gardens south of Austin." Another source named a selection 'Nana' as being a dwarf version. However, it is not considered hardy north of Zone 9; Austin is in Zone 8a. As the dwarf is not really a "cultivar" (cultivated variety), but a selection, it should have no different hardiness from the standard plant. Since you do have a green sprig, we believe it will grow back, but it will be a slow process, and there will always be the threat of dieback again in another hard Austin winter. 

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