Friday, February 7, 2014

When Evergreen Shrubs Turn Brown from a Hard Freeze

When the leaves of azaleas, camellias, gardenias, and other evergreen shrubs turn brown after a hard freeze in winter, the instinctive first step that a  homeowner wants to take is to prune away the ugly, dead-looking parts of the plants. Instead, the first action to take is to keep away from the pruning shears!

UGA Extension's Keith Mickler, in the GA FACES article "Don't prune ice-covered ornamental plants until spring," says "The best advice for now is the 'wait and see approach.'"

He explains: "Severe pruning should be delayed until new growth appears in the spring. Waiting ensures live wood is not removed." Mickler adds, "Pruning away dead wood can expose buds, which may still be alive, to harsh elements. Another hard freeze just might wipe out any survivors."

For those who consider the browned leaved too unsightly to allow them to remain in the landscape, Mickler says that the dead leaves may be removed.

For additional information about caring for ornamental plants in winter, see the complete article, linked above, and UGA's publication "Winter protection of ornamental plants."