David Cantrell

David Cantrell

With warmer weather taking place in Pittsburg County, signs of freeze damage are now starting to appear on ornamental shrubs and trees.

This damage is from the frigid temperatures we endured in early February. These early symptoms of plant injury are showing up primarily on evergreens, so we’ll have to wait to see how deciduous plants fared.

As you are well aware, each plant species is going to respond differently to extreme cold. Some plants were covered with snow, so they weren’t exposed to the severe air temperatures. Older, well-established plants may not show much damage now, but will later in the summer as they need more water.

Plants in the Pittsburg County area are starting to show various cold damage symptoms. Nandina leaves are turning a bleached out, brown color and starting to drop from the plant. Yaupon leaves on scattered, small branches are turning a transparent, yellowish color. At the base of yaupon branches with leaf discoloration you’ll find split bark areas. Artemisia, a semi-evergreen perennial, has lots of stem splits on stems that stood above the snow level.

It is going to take time to find out how badly the plants have been damaged. Some plants may be fine will others may have severe damage and some may even die.

For now, discolored branches can be trimmed from injured plants. If large branches show dieback, more extensive pruning may be needed. The best thing to do is to wait until you’re sure that a branch or plant will not recover. One horticulturist around for the serve cold in 1983 remembers a crapemyrtle that did not leaf out until July. The lesson - we all need to be very patient this growing season in evaluating plant health.

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