It is time to assess your freeze damage and plan a
strategy to repair the damage.
In the vegetable garden most of the newly planted items
and even some of the mature plants were destroyed. My garden is in
a valley in my backyard where the cold air settles. I lost both the
mature broccoli and the young plants. I am going to replant. It is
late in the year for a new broccoli crop but it may work if the weather
cooperates. Spinach was temporarily flattened but recovered nicely.
The potato tops froze off but I believe in most cases they will resprout.
Mature carrot foliage was discolored but survived the freezes. Young
carrots were fried. Carrots can be reseeded.
Radishes, rutabagas, beets, and chard were frozen back;
like the carrots, they can be reseeded. If your onions were lush and
growing strongly, the tops are probably mush now. In most cases, they
will respout. Texas Cooperative Vegetable Specialist, Dr. Jerry Parsons,
believes, however, that the resprouted onions may go to seed rather
than bulb appropriately. The advice is to use them up quickly as green
onions. English peas were killed; it is too late to reseed them.
So, the scorecard in the vegetable garden is to replant
fast-maturing cool weather plants like radishes and the vegetables
tolerant of late spring weather like carrots, rutabagas, beets, chard,
and broccoli. In late March summer squash and green beans can be planted,
followed shortly by melons, tomatoes, peppers, okra, and other hot
In the flower garden most gardeners lost their ornamental
kale, stocks, calendula, petunias, and sweet peas. Pansies and cyclamen
are probably still blooming. Snapdragons and dianthus lost bloom but
they will rebloom and be spectacular this spring. Petunias can be
replanted because they bloom into the summer, especially if you use
the Laura Bush and Kahuna type (heat tolerant)
petunias. New plantings of dianthus can also be used to fill space
into the summer, otherwise, wait a few weeks and plant the summer
annuals such as begonias and zinnias.
The largest reseeded larkspurs were damaged but most
escaped. Bluebonnets in my yard were not phased by the cold but poppies
in the low spots seem to be frozen. The other wildflowers will fill
in and coreopsis and cosmos can be seeded for later color.
Fruit trees with blooms have lost their flowers but
the buds seem intact. Unless your trees were in full bloom it appears
that the freeze may just serve as a beneficial thinning. Whatever
the situation in your yard, there is nothing that can be done to reroll
the dice for fruit trees.
There is some potential for freeze damage on St. Augustine
grass. Floratam, our best variety for disease and drought and insect
tolerance, is sensitive to cold. I believe, however, that damage will
be limited on St. Augustine and that it will quickly fill in when
the soil warms. Zoysia, buffalo, and Bermuda grass were dormant and
should have escaped any damage.
This may be the first year in the last four or five
where we had significant losses of tropical and semi-tropical plants.
If your bougainvilleas, tropical hibiscus, plumeria, citrus, and mandevilla
were unprotected, expect to replace them.
The winter of 20012002 is also the first time
in several years when most root hardy perennials froze back. I see
a few lavender lantanas still blooming but no plumbagos, dwarf ruellia,
or salvias like past years. For the herbaceous plants like Katy
ruellia, it is obvious where the kill line is on the foliage. It is
less obvious on other plants. Cut the top off to the point where the
stem is green in a cross-section. The freeze-killed parts will have
a brown cambium layer (outer ring) or be brown throughout.
One of the easiest ways to deal with freeze killed
stems is to just wait four to six weeks. The sprouting will tell you
where to prune. I expect plants like Mexican heather, plumbago, lantana,
esperanza, rock rose, poinciana, and firebush will be killed to the
roots. Shrimp plant, Salvia greggii, Turks cap, and others will
show very little stem damage. Plants in the open and in low spots
in the landscapes will suffer the most damage.
Irises, paperwhites, Texas mountain laurel, Texas
Gold columbines, hyacinths, tulips, redbuds, and quince that
were in bloom generally lost the flowers that were open but the closed
buds seemed to have escaped damage. This is a year when the slow bloomers
survived better than the more precious individuals of the same species.