Ask a Question forum: Freeze damage to perennials and shrubs

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Canyon Lake Texas
MrGreenjeans
Dec 20, 2016 3:25 PM CST
As I guess many have in south central Texas, we experienced a hard freeze during the last couple of days. We covered our cold season crops but did not cover our perennial flowers and shrubs. Our lantana and angelonia have freeze kill and I know we'll need to cut them back to about three inches (what a shame) but also our ezperanza appears to have suffered damage as well. The leaves look like they have been partially dried (curled up). We moved to the Texas Hill Country, just north of San Antonio, from Missouri and planted a lot of the above so-called cold hardy plants. And we have no prior experience with esperanza. Do we need to cut them back also? Unfortunately, they had grown to about 3 to 4 feet high. Sure hate to lose a season of growth!

Would appreciate suggestions. Thanks, Mike
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Dec 20, 2016 6:23 PM CST
Cold hardy shrubs do suffer freeze damage but they survive it. That's why they're considered cold hardy. Don't prune until next spring when you see new growth. That frozen layer is now a protective layer.

The frozen leaves didn't just freeze, they dehydrated. Severe cold sucks all the moisture out of the leaves. Before your next big freeze, make sure everything is well watered - that will help keep them from freezing as badly.
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Dec 20, 2016 6:28 PM CST
My lantana usually goes ratty during winter. But it is also the time we get our winter rains, so it is touch and go when we get the hard freeze warnings. I just wait patiently for Spring to prune it, and once temps warm up consistently again, it bounces back.
Name: Lee-Roy
Bilzen, Belgium (Zone 8a)
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Arico
Dec 21, 2016 7:36 PM CST
Cold hardy and winter green aren't the same, as many people would believe. Hardy just means it'll survive certain freezing temps without dying i.e. either the whole plant or just a portion (mostly the crown and root system)

I'm not familiar with that particular shrub, but I suggest you wait until spring to cut it back. The leaves might be dead, but the wood might not. Who knows, in spring it might send out shoots again from the branches, if not perhaps from the crown (in that case check if the branches are still alive by scratching it; if it's green it's alive) then you can cut it all the way back to new growth.

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