All Posts   Posted:   January 20, 2017 by Nicole Forbes - Education

After this round of winter storms and snow you are probably looking at your garden wondering what has survived and how to go about recovering any potential damage. Although we still have plenty of winter weather left, there are a few things that can be done now to help your landscape make it to spring looking its best.

Plants in containers:

If you moved potted plants indoors or to protected areas before the storm, they can be moved back to their normal locations as temperatures begin to warm to normal ranges. If they have been indoors for more than a week they may be thirsty, if so be sure to water them.

If you didn’t protect your containers from freezing you might find some damaged plants or even a cracked pot. If this is the case, do what you can to protect what remains by repotting the plants in a temporary container or stop into our garden centers for a new pot – 2017 shipments are arriving now and I’m sure you will find a replacement plant or two while you are visiting! Remember in the future that pots that are well-draining (think pot feet or something to raise them off the ground) and containers with extra-thick walls are the most frost-resistant… Ha! I’m on to you winter!

Plants that were covered:

As the snow and ice melts, remove the sheets and blankets that have been their protection so they are exposed to sunlight; look for any damaged or broken branches that need pruning and give them a clean cut.


Triage the damage to landscape trees & shrubs:

With the combined weight of snow and ice and pressure from the winds, it is our trees that sustain the most winter damage. Don’t try to repair all types of damage yourself – if it involves a chainsaw and a ladder it’s probably best left to the professionals. If a limb or branch is broken or damaged and easy for you to handle it should be pruned to a lateral branch or back to a healthy bud; usually a small hand-saw is just right for this job but some use of loppers or hand pruners may also be necessary. If you find the need for a professional arborist we recommend contacting Collier's Arbor Care, Halstead's Arboriculture or Arbor-Pro, Inc. In addition to tree damage you might find broken branches on ornamental shrubs, especially evergreen ones. Prune below damaged branch to leave a clean cut; cut stem back to just above a healthy bud. Resist the urge to prune more than what is obviously damaged now; when growth begins in spring it will help you determine how far back to prune as healthy buds begin to grow. Bent over shrubbery is best left alone if not broken, later light pruning can be done to correct shape. If it is columnar like a sky pencil and the branches have all fallen away they can be staked & gathered once it warms up. If is an arborvitae and bent totally in 1/2 it is probably a goner but still good to wait & see what recovery looks like. If trees/shrubs have tipped over or fallen down without breaking they can be replanted if the ground isn’t too frozen but this should be done within about 3 days of the original damage and the plant should be staked for temporary support.


When to consider the plant “dead”:

It is wise to wait until after our last average frost date (April 15th) to determine if a plant is likely to recover or not from a harsh winter; many plants are in their dormancy and look pretty dead already so waiting to see if they begin growing in spring is the easiest way to tell if they are still alive. One thing is certain, after such a harsh winter, most of our plants will be extra hungry when they wake this spring so we need to remember to fertilize as part of the recovery plan; all-purpose organic fertilizers with beneficial microorganisms help energize plants with the nutrients to sustain vigorous new spring growth!

One of my favorite garden plants, the hardy fuchsia is notoriously late to emerge in the spring and often sustains some winter damage but always grows new sprouts from its roots and recovers by mid-May. It is best to wait until the fuchsia shows signs of growth so I can tell how far to cut it back each spring.
Another “late-sleeper” each spring is the crepe myrtle – often not leafing-out until May. As more of us fall in love with this lovely late-season tree/shrub it is crucial that we understand how it grows… give it time this year, they are quite cold-hardy!
The fate of most tender perennials – those hardy to zones 8 and above… well, let’s call those new vacancies in your garden “opportunities”. I am sure you have had your eye on something that you wanted to try but didn’t have room for like maybe a winter-blooming camellia, a Black Lace Elderberry or a sunny bed of dahlias for summer bouquets.

As you are doing your storm recovery remember that we are here to answer your questions; we will try to help you solve your problems and would love to make recommendations for replacements. Winter is still upon us but we can all help each other weather the storms.  

After this round of winter storms and snow you are probably looking at your garden wondering what has survived and how to go about recovering any potential damage. Although we still have plenty of winter weather left, there are a few things that can be done now to help your landscape make it to spring looking its best.

Plants in containers:

If you moved potted plants indoors or to protected areas before the storm, they can be moved back to their normal locations as temperatures begin to warm to normal ranges. If they have been indoors for more than a week they may be thirsty, if so be sure to water them.

If you didn’t protect your containers from freezing you might find some damaged plants or even a cracked pot. If this is the case, do what you can to protect what remains by repotting the plants in a temporary container or stop into our garden centers for a new pot – 2017 shipments are arriving now and I’m sure you will find a replacement plant or two while you are visiting! Remember in the future that pots that are well-draining (think pot feet or something to raise them off the ground) and containers with extra-thick walls are the most frost-resistant… Ha! I’m on to you winter!

Plants that were covered:

As the snow and ice melts, remove the sheets and blankets that have been their protection so they are exposed to sunlight; look for any damaged or broken branches that need pruning and give them a clean cut.


Triage the damage to landscape trees & shrubs:

With the combined weight of snow and ice and pressure from the winds, it is our trees that sustain the most winter damage. Don’t try to repair all types of damage yourself – if it involves a chainsaw and a ladder it’s probably best left to the professionals. If a limb or branch is broken or damaged and easy for you to handle it should be pruned to a lateral branch or back to a healthy bud; usually a small hand-saw is just right for this job but some use of loppers or hand pruners may also be necessary. If you find the need for a professional arborist we recommend contacting Collier's Arbor Care, Halstead's Arboriculture or Arbor-Pro, Inc. In addition to tree damage you might find broken branches on ornamental shrubs, especially evergreen ones. Prune below damaged branch to leave a clean cut; cut stem back to just above a healthy bud. Resist the urge to prune more than what is obviously damaged now; when growth begins in spring it will help you determine how far back to prune as healthy buds begin to grow. Bent over shrubbery is best left alone if not broken, later light pruning can be done to correct shape. If it is columnar like a sky pencil and the branches have all fallen away they can be staked & gathered once it warms up. If is an arborvitae and bent totally in 1/2 it is probably a goner but still good to wait & see what recovery looks like. If trees/shrubs have tipped over or fallen down without breaking they can be replanted if the ground isn’t too frozen but this should be done within about 3 days of the original damage and the plant should be staked for temporary support.


When to consider the plant “dead”:

It is wise to wait until after our last average frost date (April 15th) to determine if a plant is likely to recover or not from a harsh winter; many plants are in their dormancy and look pretty dead already so waiting to see if they begin growing in spring is the easiest way to tell if they are still alive. One thing is certain, after such a harsh winter, most of our plants will be extra hungry when they wake this spring so we need to remember to fertilize as part of the recovery plan; all-purpose organic fertilizers with beneficial microorganisms help energize plants with the nutrients to sustain vigorous new spring growth!

One of my favorite garden plants, the hardy fuchsia is notoriously late to emerge in the spring and often sustains some winter damage but always grows new sprouts from its roots and recovers by mid-May. It is best to wait until the fuchsia shows signs of growth so I can tell how far to cut it back each spring.
Another “late-sleeper” each spring is the crepe myrtle – often not leafing-out until May. As more of us fall in love with this lovely late-season tree/shrub it is crucial that we understand how it grows… give it time this year, they are quite cold-hardy!
The fate of most tender perennials – those hardy to zones 8 and above… well, let’s call those new vacancies in your garden “opportunities”. I am sure you have had your eye on something that you wanted to try but didn’t have room for like maybe a winter-blooming camellia, a Black Lace Elderberry or a sunny bed of dahlias for summer bouquets.

As you are doing your storm recovery remember that we are here to answer your questions; we will try to help you solve your problems and would love to make recommendations for replacements. Winter is still upon us but we can all help each other weather the storms.