Beverly McClure is a Denton County Master Gardener Association Member and Trinity Forks Chapter Member of the Native Plant Society of Texas.
It has been 6 weeks and we are still in recovery mode. Rebounding, patience and observation are the words to remember as a result of the February deep freeze.
Plants that we were positive we had lost after days of below freezing temperatures are now emerging green and returning to life. The Rose Creek Abelia in my yard were brown with no hint of life. Now, I am seeing the barest of green leaves peeking out.
The “bend test”
Some plants are passing the “bend test” – if the branch bends, it is alive. Plants will drop their leaves to be replaced with new buds. When branches snap off when bent, they haven’t survived.
Many people’s reaction when seeing the freeze damage is to immediately want to “fix” the damage. Any broken branches can be pruned especially if they present a safety danger. At this time, it is still best to hold off on fertilizing. Fertilizing causes the energy to focus on new growth rather than repairing any damage which allows the tree to fight off insects and disease.
Give nature time to heal herself. Some plants are still dormant and require time to begin growing. The plants in Zone 8 that are native to Denton and well mulched generally are the ones who are showing signs of rebound. It may be years before we know the full extent of damage to some of our trees.
With patience our landscapes will be interesting, beautiful and attractive to the pollinators this year. A good plan for the future is to plant more native plants, they will tolerate our heat, cold, use less water, attract beneficial insects adding beauty to our landscapes. Most native plants survived the deep freeze. Patience is a challenge, more so for some of us, but patience is the key to give our landscape it’s best chance to return to its life before the freeze.
We need to remain patient and observant with our landscape. Some experts recommend waiting to cut the dead parts of our plants back for several more weeks to give the best opportunity for our plants to grow back. With the warmer weather it is a good idea to walk through and observe our gardens at least daily.
It was a shock to see the damage after the deep freeze, now our landscapes are rebounding, though slowly, with patience and observation, our gardens will thrive.