Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Maintaining Freeze Damaged Landscaping

Everyone is aware of the unusually harsh winter conditions we have had this year, but if you are wondering how it has affected your landscaping and what to do about it, the City of Southlake is available to offer some advice.

Be patient. There is no way to currently know the full extent of the damage or whether all your plants will have survived or not. Please wait until normally dormant plants start to resprout and evergreen species cast their leaves. There is nothing you can do to speed up the freeze damage healing process. Watering, pruning, or fertilizing won’t make it happen quicker.

The hardest hit plant materials in our area seem to be Live Oaks, Indian Hawthorn, Abelias, Loropetalums, ground covers like Asian Jasmine and Purple Winter Creeper, Palms, and succulents. Although these trees and plants grow well in Southlake, they are planted at the high end of their recommended plant hardiness zone (USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map). The good news is, most of them will cast their damaged leaves and resprout.

For tips and tricks on recovering damaged landscaping from the winter storm, please read the information below. The section headers will indicate which type of landscaping the information is about.

Evergreen Woody Shrubs, Vines, and Groundcovers (Asian jasmine, azaleas, camellias, confederate jasmine, eleagnus, fatsia, fig ivy, gardenias, Indian hawthorns, ligustrum, loquat, loropetalum, oleander, pittosporum, privet, roses, sasanquas, sweet olive, Texas sage, wax myrtle, etc.): Wait until they start to resprout from the existing stems or the ground, then cut away dead and leave the living.  There will most likely be no blooms this year and all old foliage will most likely fall off.  Many of these plants are from somewhat subtropical Asia and simply aren’t used to zero degrees.   Most broadleaf evergreens prefer milder climates, while narrow leafed evergreens are more adapted to colder climates.

Live oaks: All foliage will be lost, which would have occurred when the new foliage came out in the springtime anyway. However, there may be varying degrees of damage including death like there was in Dallas during the 1980s when all the bark eventually popped off. Live oaks are coastal and Central Texas Escarpment trees and are not used to zero-degree weather. Once again, there is nothing you can do right now but wait.

Conifers: Conifers will be fine.

Palm Trees and Sago Palms: Most will be damaged or dead; however, do nothing but cut off the dead fronds for now.  It will take months to see if they resprout.  Historically the only palms that are reliably cold hardy here in northeast Texas are Mexican/Texas sabal palms, Brazoria palms, dwarf palmettos, and most windmill palms. These types of palms survived zero degrees in the 1980s. Sagos aren’t true palms and are the least cold hardy.

Tropicals, perennials, annuals, bananas, cannas, crinums, gingers, ligularia, phlox, salvias, Turk’s cap, etc.:   Cut away the dead mush (wait until April 1 if you can stand it).

St. Augustine and Centipede lawns:   There will possibly be dead areas and freeze damage.  Mow as normal but avoid pre-emergent herbicides.   Do not fertilize until nights are warmer in mid-April and only water as need on your designated days.  View Watering Restrictions | Southlake, TX – Official Website (cityofsouthlake.com)

Crapemyrtles:   They will be different amounts of damage on different cultivars in different microclimates.  Don’t do anything until they start to sprout then cut back to living, even if it’s at the ground.  They will grow back vigorously.  In the 1980s Lagerstroemia fauriei froze and died, ‘Natchez’ and many hybrids froze to the ground, and there were varying degrees of damage to most older indica cultivars.

Fruit trees:   Most are cold hardy except pomegranates, olives, and figs, which will have varying degrees of damage and death.   Once again, do nothing for now and prune back to living when they sprout.  Open flowers and fat buds on peaches and pears will most likely be frozen.

Herbs: Many herbs like rosemary and lavender will be dead and will need to be replaced, especially those in pots, which are always less cold hardy than those in the ground. Some rosemary cultivars are colder hardy than others but very few can survive zero degrees. Most herbs are Mediterranean and prefer mild winters and dry soils.

If you have any concerns or questions about your damaged landscaping, please contact the City’s Landscape Administrator at kmartin@ci.southlake.tx.us or give him a call at (817)748-8229.

 

Abelias

Indian Hawthorn

 

Century Plant

Prickly Pear Cactus

Wax Myrtle