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The Cold Weather Killed My Plants – What Do I Do Now?

frost on plant
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

I looked out into our courtyard and where once some magnificent plants grew proudly there were no only limp wilted shriveled up stalks. I did not protect my plants. It’s really not a big deal to me personally but the wife is highly agitated. I look at a cold blast as natures way of thinning the herd and creating a survival of the fittest environment.

How do you know if your plants are dead or just wounded? This isn’t a question you can answer today  or tomorrow. It will most likely be Mid-February before you will know the extent of the real damage. You have two choices you can trim back the damaged areas and hope there isn’t another freeze or you can just put up with some ugly plants for a few weeks and then do your trim back. The damaged foliage will actually help insulate the healthy parts of the plant if you anticipate more freezing temperatures.

Is this a good time to apply fertilizer to help the plants grow back stronger? No, that probably isn’t the best thing to do unless you feel like this is all the winter we’re going to have. A quick note here, Winter is far from over. Fertilizer will simply stimulate new growth in the plant. If another freeze comes that new growth will be damaged too. Just be patient.

This freeze killed most of the insect pests right? Wrong! While you may get a bit of a reprieve from dealing with creepy crawling pests for the next few weeks they are far from gone. Pests are the reason you will want to make sure you do remove the dead vegetation from landscape before the growing season begins. But the short answer to the bug question is No. The bugs have been slowed down but they are not gone.

If you have more questions concerning landscape plants and garden plants how best to deal with freezing temperatures contact your local Agriculture Extension Office. Many of those offices have plant experts on staff and some very helpful resources that you can research on your own to find the answers you need to turn the brown aftermath of near record cold temperature in the a bright blooming landscape for the spring.

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