HOUSTON, Texas - People began taking stock of their plants and landscaping today in the wake of the most prolonged freeze in the Houston area in three decades.
Even with freeze cloths and sheets, not all of what lay beneath was a pretty sight.
"If you put several layers of freeze covers on, it raised the temperature, but it was still in the 20s," said KTRH Gardenline host Randy Lemmon. "And it went on for three days."
The good news: beneath the brown stems and stalks, there may still be life left. Lemmon took us on a tour of his own property in Tomball.
Using a knife and a small pruner, he clipped off stems of plants.
"There's some green," Lemmon said. "That means the root system is alive."
It also means it will regenerate new growth in warmer weather.
"Check to see if there's green, and then, protect the cut. You don't want the plant producing new growth, only to be hit by another freeze," Lemmon pointed out.
Another tip was for plants like elephant ears or philodendron, which are likely wilted and laying on the ground.
"Cut off the mushy stalks and don't leave anything wet. If you don't, the rot will move into the roots and the plant will die," he said.
The soil could also be contaminated.
For those with palms, the sago variety may have a few brown fronds but will recover. Slender varieties, like the queen palm, should have had their trunks wrapped before the freeze and could be damaged from days of ice.
Citrus trees are also delicate and will require extra care. At Wabash Feed and Garden, Cindy Champion recommended magnesium for wilted leaves. Another remedy she suggested is liquid seaweed extract.
"It provides hormones and root support. I misted some on tomato plant seedlings that were in the cold a few years ago when a heater went out. They perked up," Lemmon observed.
For homeowners concerned about their lawns, Lemmon said to forego mowing until the possibility of more freezing winter weather is over.
"Use the brown grass to protect new growth," he said.
"At this point, I think the damage has been done. We'll have to wait until spring to see what returns and what doesn't," he said.
In other words, let nature take its course.
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