Question of the Week: December 29, 2016
“Neil, how can I tell what needs to be pruned out of my frozen shrubs?”
Depending on where you live in Texas, you’re likely to see plants that were hurt by the cold two weeks ago. Across a swath of Central Texas the list includes oleanders and gardenias. As I mentioned last week in a similar answer, in South Texas the list of plants will be different, but the results will be almost identical.
When there’s freeze damage to shrubs and groundcovers, leaves will be browned within days. However, you’ll be left wondering if the plants will sprout out new leaves from old stems, or if they’ll need to be cut back toward the ground.
Oleanders that turn brown usually will have to be trimmed back significantly, perhaps clear to the ground. You’ll see their stems starting to shrivel already. It’s rare that they branch out and fill in as the growing season returns. They have to send out new shoots from their roots.
Gardenias, by comparison, may die back part way. You can often see small cracks developing in damaged twig tissues – not a good sign. It’s best to leave these plants alone for another couple of weeks to see if the damage continues to move down the stems.
Pampasgrass is already starting to turn brown in North Texas due to the cold, but it is still green farther south. Asian jasmine groundcover looks like the more exposed plantings are going to turn brown, but not to worry. They’ll come roaring back when it turns warm in April and May.
All of which is to say once again: Don’t jump to early decisions. Which plants will have to be pruned, and by how much they should be trimmed will all become plainly obvious rather quickly.