Frost Damaged Bougainvillea and Hibiscus - Knowledgebase Question

Gibsonton, FL
Question by eloisezvano
January 6, 1999
I covered my hibiscus and bougainvillea with sheets 2 nights ago, but alas, it was just too cold for my plants here in Florida. Now that they are looking pitiful on their tops, should I prune them and if so, how and when?

Answer from NGA
January 6, 1999


Check the branches to see if they are damaged or if the cold just burned the leaves. One way to check is to scrape a spot on the branch with your thumbnail to see if it is green or a healthy creamy color, or if it is gray to brown indicating damaged tissue.

If the branches are healthy, I wouldn't prune until spring when new growth begins and you can easily see what is alive and what is not. If the branches are damaged, prune the bush back to healthy wood (to within a couple of inches from the ground if necessary). Then mulch the plants well to protect the base and wait for spring.

Thanks for the question!

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