Dallas’ 6th coldest winter on record, with temps below freezing for several days in a row, took its toll on gardens and landscapes across the Metroplex.
Many of our zone hardy plants were injured when temperatures rapidly dropped or fluctuated to as low as 15 degrees F, and active plant tissues had a tough time withstanding the chill.
When the weather gets below freezing, the water in plant cells form ice crystals that expand as they freeze and rupture cell walls causing plant tissue to collapse. This results in injury to flower buds, stems, leaves, or in some cases, the entire plant.
Frost damaged plants are identified by limp or distorted growth. Leaves can turn brown or translucent. Roots are unable to draw water and plants die from lack of moisture. Tender plantings are hit the hardest and can struggle to recover entirely. The damage is made worse when cold plants face the morning sun, causing them to defrost quickly, rupturing cell walls.
Prevention many times is better than cure and freeze damage can sometimes be avoided. Lambert’s recommends minimizing damaging effects of cold by keeping your plants sheltered, using freeze cloth or burlap blankets, and layering mulch or compost to keep the soil and roots warm.
Even with protection, we have seen much damage to even the hardiest of plant material. (The protective covering will only moderate the temperature by about 4 degrees). The length of time the temperatures remained below freezing was too much for many plants to survive.
In many cases, cold damaged plants can be saved and will grow out of it. Over the next few weeks, we will be monitoring budding patterns and evaluating plant viability. Our horticulturists are touring gardens now to assess damage and prescribe therapeutic steps to restore vitality to plants injured by a lingering winter.
Please contact your Garden Services Manager, or one of our expert horticulturalists on staff, at 214-350-8350 to arrange for an assessment of your garden.
Photo: Citrus. Aggie Hort TAMU