Will your plants make a comeback after the freeze? Gardening experts weighs in

Courtney Carpenter Image
Thursday, December 29, 2022
Houston freeze: After covering plants, gardening experts share tips on how to check for life and when to replant
The hard freeze has come and gone, and for some of us, it left behind a yard full of plants that don't look quite like they used to.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The hard freeze has come and gone, and for some of us, it left behind a yard full of plants that don't look quite like they used to.

We asked Chris Culp, owner of Tall Plants, what we should do with our plants now that we are on the other side of this freeze. First off, he says, they should be uncovered by now. Step two will take a little patience.

"At this point, you have to wait and see. See what turns brown and don't get crazy and trim everything back. You kind of want to wait to make sure that the plant is dead before you remove anything," Culp said.

How long should you wait before cutting your plants back?

"Generally as long as possible. If it doesn't bother you, leave the brown and wait as much time as you need to determine how much of the plant got damaged," Culp explained.

When the time comes, Culp says you can do a scratch test of sorts to see where you should cut. To do this, scratch off the top few layers of the branch of the plant and see if it is brown or green. Green means the plant is still alive. Cut off the part of the plant that is completely brown.

For the plants that didn't make it, when should you replant? Not quite yet.

"I would wait until we get into the end of February, really make sure that these freezes are gone. If you really want to be cautious about it, wait until March, the middle of March, (or) springtime. That's a great time to do it. Otherwise, you might be wasting your money," Culp said.

If you are replanting, here are a few plants that do well in Houston and can typically withstand a freeze.

"Ligustrums come to mind. You see those everywhere. They'll take on some damage, but they'll bounce back. One of my favorite plants is a Japanese Yew. You see those as hedges, bushes. They might have taken on a little damage over this freeze, but you drive around town, most of them are going to be fine," Culp explained.

If gnats start swarming the tree or if the leaves turn really black, those are tell-tale signs the plant has rotted, and you can get rid of them.

Otherwise, give your plants some time, check to see which parts are still alive, eventually cut them back, and cross your fingers for a comeback.

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