Hi there fellow gardeners, coming to you again from the campus of Botanic to discuss tips and anecdotes for successful gardening. This week we will discuss cold damage in your beloved landscapes and gardens.
Many of my fellow gardeners were shocked and awed by the ferocity of the December 2022 winter storm. Temperatures plummeted by as much as 40 degrees in many areas in just over 10 hours. Needless to say, our plants weren’t thrilled, but they were definitely chilled. Chilled to the stem!!!
Here at Botanic the cold damage is evident across the campus. Loquat trees, Boxwood, Pittosporum, Camellias, etc., are all showing signs of freeze damage. Boxwoods have brow tips or in some cases are totally brown and appear dead. Certain Camellias are heavily defoliated and the Loquats are completely brown. It is now we must show “patience.”
As a gardener myself, my knee jerk reaction is to get into that garden on these sporadically warm January and February days and start pruning. Best to just wait. “Why?” you ask…
First and foremost, pruning can stimulate vegetative new growth during these warm spells of winter. New growth stimulated on broadleaf evergreens before the last frost is sure to be damaged and can sometimes cause plant death. So best just to “REST.”
Spring has the power to rejuvenate/resurrect plants, and we don’t know for sure the extent of the cold damage. Many of the plants you see that are completely brown have a good chance to fully recover. The brown leaves may drop and new vegetative buds will germinate and burst forth with new foliage. This is of course once warmer weather prevails, which typically is after your areas frost free date. A good rule of thumb is “AFTER” Good Friday. Also, another Farmers adage is after “The Pecan Trees” start leafing out. Personally, I have never seen it frost after the pecan tree’s leaf out.
The cold damage while definitely widespread, may not be as bad in your garden. Or, parts of your garden are worse than others. Have you ever heard of “microclimates” in the garden? Microclimates exist in almost every landscape and gardening situation. Masonry walls, windowed walls, vegetative screens can all create warmer microclimates. Plants in your landscape growing in these microclimate spaces may have far less damage than plants out in the open.
Everyone here at Botanic wants you to be successful. An investment in landscaping is just as important and valuable as the color of your home, or the type of doors used. Great landscaping creates “curb appeal” and as a result adds value. Feel free to bring photos of your cold damaged plants by our Greenhouse. If you can’t get by, all are welcome to email me at King@shopbotanic.com. We can recommend the correct course of action to optimize a full recovery.
Interesting! Please let us know when we can start cutting back the dead limbs.
I would recommend the middle of March. Thank you for your inquiry!
I live in Atlanta after 15 years of living in Auburn. The growing climate is a bit different, but the gardening “issues” can be the same. I have a quite large tea olive that dropped all leaves after the freeze this winter-this has never happened before. I appreciate your comments about having patience & “wait & see”— I certainly do not want to lose/replace this plant. Thanks for the gardening insights.
Marlene, I remember you from when you lived in Auburn! I think your tea olive will be fine and should be re-foliating any day now. Come visit us at our new location when you get a chance.
Hello, I purchased 25 or 30 of your African lilies in the late summer. The front has destroyed or distressed or damaged them to my sad depression.
What’s next for them ? Cutting back to the soil level ? Leave them be ?
What n when please 😜
Micki, that weather in December was a brutal cold temperature to say the least. I recommend you trim the plant down to ground level around March 15th, in hopes of it returning for the upcoming growing season. You’ve got a 50/50 shot. Please keep us updated on the progress and come see us at Botanic at your earliest opportunity.
King, it’s great to see you back in the garden! You have always been the inspiration and the expert help we have needed. Peace and blessings for a healthy and prosperous Spring!
Wells and Leigh
Wells, it is always great to hear from you and hope you’re enjoying retirement. I hope you and Leigh can come visit us this spring while it’s beautiful weather. Wells, your perennial encouragement is always inspiring. Thank you always for your support.
Great article. Patience is a virtue that I don’t have. Lol.
Ms. Shockley, thank you for your feedback. Luckily, soon patience will no longer be required. Come visit us at Botanic this spring and see all the new fresh plants. And while you’re here, have a drink at the Patio Bar!