Houston We Have a Problem: Our Plants Froze

Mar 15, 2021 | Lawn Blog

Spring is here!  We are moving into one of the most beautiful seasons in the Houston area when we have warm temperatures during the day but we still cool off a bit at night.  The humidity hasn’t moved in full force yet, so it is truly a beautiful time to be outdoors!  Yet, this year when we go outside we are seeing things we don’t normally see: cold damaged plant life.  It is all around us because our area experienced a historic deep freeze.  Some plant life is shocked and other plant life may be a total loss.  What do we do now?

Understanding Cold Damaged Plants

Every plant is different in terms of how cold it can get and for how long so there isn’t a standard answer to the question of will your plant survive.  Instead, we need to understand what happens to a cold damaged plant.  As you have probably learned, a light freeze won’t usually cause major damage to more hardy plants, but in a hard freeze as we had in the Houston area it can be a bigger problem.  When a plant freezes, water freezes in the plant cells causing dehydration and damage to the cell walls.  Because the cell walls are damaged, the plant will defrost too quickly, killing leave and stems.

Saving Cold Damaged Plants

In some cases, cold-damaged plants can be saved.  Frot crack damage in trees can be repaired by tearing away torn or loose bark, allowing the tree to then form a natural callous.  It can be helpful for woody plants to lightly mist their foliage before the sun hits them after a freeze.  Potted plants should be moved indoors or away from direct sunlight if possible.

If you cannot move plants out of direct sunlight or into a sheltered area, it’s important not to prune damaged stems or leaves.  While this may seem counter-intuitive, the damaged plant material offers protection to the plant should another snap of colder weather hit. When spring is fully underway and the threat of frost is behind us, that is a good time to prune dead stems back.  Live stems should only be pruned of their dead leaves as these areas will regrow when warmer weather returns.

If you have soft-stemmed plants that have been impacted by the cold, you may want to prune them right away.  Softer stems are prone to rotting.  If you prune you may also want to water and give a bit of liquid fertilizer to aid in the recovery of the plant.

Prevention is Key

While it is possible to save some cold-damaged plants, the best option is prevention.  Wrapping plants in sheets or burlap is a great way to protect cold-sensitive and tender plants.  When the sun returns, simply remove the sheets and allow them to absorb the sunlight.  Potted plants should be moved indoors or into a sheltered area, if possible.

Need New Landscaping? Archer Services Can Help!

Afraid your plants are damaged beyond repair?  Unfortunately, this may be commonplace this spring as our area is simply not set up to withstand the temperatures we experienced.  If you are ready to remove the dead or damaged plant life and replace it with something else, we would love to help! While it is sad to lose beloved plants, having an outdoor space you enjoy is important!   Contact us or give us a call today at 281-801-4640 to schedule a consultation!



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