In the wake of the recent frosts many of my clients have sent emails bemoaning the damage that has occurred to many of their more frost-sensitive plants like citrus and princess bush. My own princess bush (Tibouchina urvilleana) got bit badly!
Most people’s first reaction is to cut off the offending leaves and branches but don’t do it! I know it’s ugly. The sight of the brown, curled leaves is offending to people who love their plants. The best thing to do is leave it alone and wait till it warms up and frost period is over...March/April.
There are good reasons NOT to cut off the damage. One reason is that the frost damage parts actually protect the plant from further frost damage. It’s sort of like a protective seal for the rest of the non-damaged parts of the plant. Secondly, it’s amazing the recovery plants can make once the weather warms. What looks dead often will start sprouting leaves in the spring.
So, put your clippers away, say a prayer and wait patiently for the spring!
In the meantime there are things you can do to protect your plants in the case of future frost alerts:
- Water plants really well if it hasn’t been raining. A well-hydrated plant can withstand the frost much better.
- Cover frost-sensitive plants with a frost blanket, old sheet, burlap or even paper. It’s best if the material doesn’t touch leaves by propping it up with stakes. Remove cover during the day.
- Use a anti-frost spray that can be purchased at your local nursery or hardware store. The spray is sort of like an anti-freeze for plants.
- Hang a string of electric lights (non-LED)- it keeps the plant warm. I haven’t used this idea but I like the idea of it...pretty and useful.
Read more of Angele's gardening and landscaping tips in the Patch Archives.