The Q&A Archives: Heliotrope Froze

Question: I had a heliotrope in my garden that has unfortunately frozen in the cold snap currently happening in northern california. Napa dipped down to 23 the other night, and now my heliotrope is all black.

Is it worth saving? If I let it be until spring, will it come back?

If not, do you have a recommendation of a plant with similar color and behaviour as the purple heliotrope? I thought about a Patty's Purple Hebe. Would that be a better choice for year to year color?


Answer: Heliotropium arborescens, the common heliotrope, is native to Peru and cannot tolerate frost. The roots of your plant probably suffered the same fate as the upper foliage. You can cut back the foliage and hope for the best, or you can remove the heliotrope and replace it with something a little more forgiving of occasional frosts. Try Heuchera, Lithodora or Erica. You'll get the most bloom from Erica - sometimes as many as four separate blooming periods per year. Heather (Erica) can be found in white, pink or purple flowering varieties. Good luck with your garden!

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