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Monday - December 08, 2003

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Seasonal Tasks, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Survivability of plants after freeze
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have many beautiful plants that froze. Some were Lantana, Hummingbird Bush, Candlestick Trees, Esperanza, Some flowers, and Marigolds. I love all of my plants and flowers and I want them to grow back if possible. Also, I have Rosemary that was also harmed by this freeze. Is there anything I can do?

ANSWER:

Most of the plants you have listed above have reasonably good cold hardiness. Assuming you live somewhere within the Central Texas area, the freezing temperatures haven't been very low for an extended period of time yet. Therefore, even though the leaves have been damaged, the stems probably haven't been significantly damaged nor the roots killed. This means the plants aren't going to look very pretty the remainder of the winter, but they probably will survive to put out new growth in the spring. In general, you can wait for the frozen parts to dry and then trim them away to six inches or so above the ground. Alternatively, you could leave the frozen dried parts in place until late winter to provide some shelter for birds and other small wildlife. Then, early spring remove all the dried dead material. For some of these plants a severe pruning is recommended anyway each winter to stimulate growth in the spring. There are several things you can do to protect your plants from further freezing. 1. Cover the root zone with a good layer of mulch--bark chips, grass clippings, shredded leaves, and hay all work well. 2. Give them adequate water. Drought stressed plants are less able to withstand freezing temperatures. 3. To protect still green foliage from freezing, you can cover the plants with cloth__old sheets, tablecloths, towels, etc., work well. You want the cloth to extend to the ground and to be anchored there with rocks or stakes. This will trap some of the radiant heat of the ground around the plants.

 

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