Last week Texas’ was unrecognizable. The extreme winter storm changed the landscape. Instead of the normal green pastures, snow blanketed the land. Ice covered almost everything not protected. One could easily marvel at the frozen tundra in which they found themselves. Fortunately like all weather patterns in Texas, they do not stay long. For instance, the sunny, 77 degree weather from yesterday is proof. However the aftermath of the winter storm is evident, especially to the frozen landscaping in our yards; therefore, today we are going to learn how best to care for our plants, trees, and flowers.
Houston Chronicle published an article, “Assess Your Garden Damage After the Freeze.” In it they interview an agriculture expert, Larry Stein. He says, “We need to learn to like ugly for while.” This echoes advice that I read from a message by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. The agent wrote, “What do we do with our freeze-damaged plants? Give them time now. Don’t prune, don’t fertilize, don’t overwater. Just let them be.” Let’s look at the three don’ts.
February is the month to prune crape myrtles and roses, but most plants are not ready to be clipped back. In fact last week, I wrote, “It’s Time to Prune Your Crape Myrtles” because late February is perfect for these trees. However we do not want to prune our other plants yet. Pruning promotes and encourages new growth, which we do not want to do at this time. There might be another freeze and your plants would have no protection from it. Pruning it now would expose it completely to the elements. Additionally, you cannot tell what is dead and what will overcome the setback. Wait until April/May when new growth begins to see what needs to be pruned.
Again, our plants and even our grass need to to recover from the intense winter weather they have endured. Until your lawns and beds have completely dried out from all the melting snow and ice, stay off of them. You don’t want to do more damage than nature already has. Fertilizer feeds your plants and grasses. Star Nursery explains that the freeze has inhibited a plants ability to metabolize the fertilizer. They go on to state that in some cases more damage can be done by improper use of fertilizer.
If your yard is anything like mine, the ground is already saturated. So any additional watering would in my opinion be overwatering. Roots will rot in overly saturated ground and the frozen back plants require less water. These two statements combined together with more water will make a horrible combination for your already struggling plants.
As hard as it might be to see your once beautiful landscaping look ugly right now, the best thing to do is nothing. Not pruning, fertilizing, or watering might seem wrong, but listen to the experts. Wait until new growth begins in the spring before pruning, pulling up dead plants, and/or fertilizing your yard. You will not have frozen landscaping forever. Spring will come and hopefully you will see how resilient your plants are.