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Plants covered in frost

Freeze Damage

Closeup of frost on plants

The Dos And Don'ts After A Freeze

When you have done everything to prepare your plants for a freeze, there can still be damage. Maybe the freeze was deeper and longer than expected. Maybe the freeze warning came too late. When you have a plant that is damaged by frost, what should you do? Read on to learn the dos and don'ts to help your plant survive and thrive after a freeze.

Follow These Steps When
A Plant Freezes

  • Check your irrigation to be sure the soil is moist to prevent more serious freeze damage. Dry soil gets cold faster and stays cold longer than moist soil. Moist soil prevents more serious damage.

  • If it is in a pot, move the pot to a covered area near a wall. Whenever possible, put the pot on top of dirt, not cement. Cement is a lot colder than dirt and aggravates freeze damage.

  • When covering plants, use approved frost cloth meant for plants. Drape the plant completely and hold in place on the ground at the drip line. With cloth at the drip line, it acts like a hot air balloon and holds in the heat coming from the soil, warming the plant.

  • Once spring arrives, look for new growth. Where new growth occurs is the sign of how far the damage went and then you know where to make your pruning cuts.

    Our gurus are ready to help you. Please bring in a picture or a sample of the damage you are seeing and we can advise you on the best possible care.

Avoid Pruning and Fertilizing During Frost Season

Pruning should wait until spring, when all danger of frost has passed. Resist the urge: do not prune off parts of the plant damaged by freeze.

There are two main reasons for this:
  • When we prune off damaged leaves this time of year, we allow the next freeze to get even closer to the branches and trunk. Plants can afford to lose leaves, but they can’t afford to lose branches or the trunk.
  • Second, pruning tells the plant to make new leaves. Those new leaves will not survive a freeze. And the plant will have spent energy it shouldn’t have, therefore, weakening the plant.
Leaving freeze damage on the plant may not look pretty, but it is the right thing to do until spring.

Wait until spring to fertilize. Fertilizer is meant to make the plant grow. While it is still freeze season, new tender growth will be the first thing to freeze off. Just like with pruning at the wrong time, fertilizing at the wrong time forces the plant to spend energy it shouldn’t, and could weaken the plant.
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