Unexpected Deep Freeze: What Should I Do?

Did the flash freeze across the South catch you by surprise? If not – fantastic! If, like many others, it did, do not worry too much. Here are some tips for helping you determine the extent of damage and how to proceed:
  • Shrubs and woody plants (azalea, camellia, crape myrtle): hold on pruning until late February. Before pruning, gently scratch a small area on the stems. If it is green underneath, it is not damaged, and you can prune as wanted. If not, prune until you find green to remove the damaged portion of the stem. Buds on many plants, such as azaleas and camellias will be damaged, so do not worry if this blooming season is less spectacular. Blooming will return to normal with standard care. Note that crape myrtles and azaleas may have extensive damage requiring deeper pruning. Extent of damage to azaleas may not be apparent until later in the season.
  • Roses: in Georgia, roses appear to have escaped damage to the canes. Although leaves may have browned, hold off on pruning until later in the winter.
  • Ornamental grasses and ferns: grasses may have turned brown, but they are likely in good shape. Prune them back in late winter, but leave at least 6 inches above the ground. If you have damaged Autumn Ferns, prune back the damaged foliage before new spring growth begins.
  • Watch the weather: given plants are already recovering from a freeze event, watch the weather for any predictions of temperatures in the 20s, and prep your plants for another freeze. Cover them if possible, and ensure they have enough ground cover, such as mulch to protect them.
If you have questions about specific plants, I am glad to help. Just send me an email with a picture.
See you in the Garden!
Sonya Harrison
My Secret Garden