Herself's Houston Garden

Conservation through cultivation

Yet another frost! What to do about frost damage

Does seem like we are getting more than our fair share of frosts this year. Where is that global warming? Houston typically gets 18 nights with below freezing temperatures on average, but I don’t recall more than one night below freezing night last winter.

The ContraCosta Times, a California newspaper has a nice article Rx for plants hurt by frost this week.

The article recommends you do not rush out to fix the damage, but rather wait and see what happens when spring arrives. Be patient, you are likely to do more harm trimming the plants back now.

In the spring trim the parts where the plant does not come back to life. But be patient some plants may surprise you.

Keep an eye on the rainfall, too little water can do more harm. But it’s not spring yet so don’t be watering all the time either.

If you must ….

Check to be sure stems are not green before you cut. On many plants it’ll only be the leaves you lost.

Some plants can be cut back to the ground and will re-appear once the weather breaks. Check your garden books for information on individual plants if you are not sure.

Anything that turned to mush is a loss. ( The article says this, I disagree. My hostas turn to mush first frost every year and come back just fine. )

Trees should have damaged fruits and leaves removed, don’t trim branches until summer. By June anything still alive will have put out leaves.

Cutting encourages new growth, hold off as long as you can.

1989 the San Francisco Botanical Garden suffered a hard freeze. It was estimated 80% of the plants were lost. But time healed most plants and the actual loss was only about 20%. So take your time and have hope.

See also: Protecting your plants from frost damage