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Houston horticulturist shares 4 tips to help your garden recover after the winter freeze

Learn how to care for your plants after freeze damage

Closeup of damaged tomato plants after a cold night.
Closeup of damaged tomato plants after a cold night. (iStock)

HOUSTON – Winter storm Uri wreaked havoc on people’s plants and trees all across Texas, but it’s possible for your plants to survive with the right care.

Brent Moon, horticultural manager with the Houston Botanic Garden, shared helpful post- freeze tips to get your garden back in shape.

Now that we are past the danger of freezing, Moon recommends starting the post-freeze cleanup.

You can see all his tips in the video below.

Winter storm Uri wreaked havoc on people’s plants and trees all across Texas, but it’s possible for your plants to survive with the right care. Brent Moon, horticultural manager with the Houston Botanic Garden, shared helpful post- freeze tips to get your garden back in shape.
Winter storm Uri wreaked havoc on people’s plants and trees all across Texas, but it’s possible for your plants to survive with the right care. Brent Moon, horticultural manager with the Houston Botanic Garden, shared helpful post- freeze tips to get your garden back in shape.

1. Start by removing mushy foliage as soon as possible.

Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha ‘Hinckleyana’) (Houston Botanic Garden)

“It is very important to remove dead and rotting foliage as soon as possible. This will allow air and sunlight to get to the crown of the plant and facilitate regrowth. Simply trim the growth back to where you see firm tissue or, in the absence of this, as close to the ground as possible,” said Moon.

2. If plants look like they’ve been killed all the way down, it’s ok to cut them back close to the ground.

Firebush (Hamelia patens) in the Upland Forest (Houston Botanic Garden)

“For plants such as Hummingbird bush (Hamelia), Ixora, Oleander, Duranta, Esperanza, etc. look for evidence of bark peeling away. If you want to wait a couple more weeks, you’ll likely begin to see small green buds as the plants begin to regrow,” he explained.

3. Time will tell if your palms are dead or just damaged.

Date palms (Phoenix dactylifera) in The Savannah (Houston Botanic Garden)

“In the meantime, it won’t hurt to take off any leaves that are completely brown. Palms such as pygmy date palms and Queen palms are not very hardy and could have succumbed to the cold, but I’d give them a couple of months before removing them. Palms such as Sabal palms and Pindo palms seem to be OK for the most part. Most Washingtonia palms have brown leaves but should be OK in time,” said Moon.

4. Get an expert to examine your palms.

One palm tree swaying, moving, shaking in wind, windy weather in Bahia honda key in Florida keys isolated against blue sky at sunset, dusk (iStock)

“You may want to have a palm specialist come out and check your palms as many recommend treating with a systemic fungicide to head off any issues with fungal issues that can crop up after a cold period like the one we just experienced,” he said.

If you need more information, Moon recently wrote a blog post with more insight on what to expect from our Houston gardens grow after the winter storm.

You can check it out, here.

To connect with Houston Botanic Garden, click here.


About the Author:

Beatriz is a producer for Houston life. She’s a dog mom who enjoys traveling and eating her way through new cities and cultures.