Are your bushes, shrubs and flowers wilted and brown? Have your palm trees turned ashen? Are you tired of looking at drooping leaves and bare sticks where you once had lush landscaping? Well, hold on for just a couple more weeks (wait until the end of February to avoid any further freezes) and you can help your plants recover from winter by taking the following steps:
• Prune back your flowering shrubs. Most plants, like hibiscus, knockout roses, oleanders and butterfly bush can be cut down to about six to eight inches from the ground if they have suffered from the winter’s frost or freeze. If the plant is relatively unharmed by the cold weather, you can leave the branches taller and only cut back to the height you desire as long as you remove all of the damaged parts.
• Crape Myrtles are notorious for being over pruned in February and March. Cutting these trees down to the knot formed by last year’s over pruning will just give you even more unsightly top branches. Instead, trim back only the parts where the branches are too crowded, branches that are growing laterally, or branches that are weak. Don’t chop them all off at the same height, the tree will look much more beautiful if the branches are allowed to grow in a natural way.
• Trim your ornamental grasses down to the “buzz cut” look using hedge trimmers to about six inches to one foot tall. Using your gloved hands, comb through the cut grass pulling out any loose pieces, therefore thinning the grass. This will allow new growth to come up and fill in the empty spaces you create.
• Remove only the completely brown fronds from your palm trees. If the tree still has fronds with green on them, it is using it to create food so you don’t want to cut these off. Applying a liquid copper fungicide can help protect the palm’s bud from disease and allow it to grow back healthy. Don’t be surprised if new fronds grow in a funny shape or are slightly discolored, they should start to grow in properly a few months after the tree has fully recovered.
• Flowers like cyclamen, pansies, zinnias and begonias can survive freezing temperatures if they have been covered and/or the cold lasts only a couple days. Gently pull away any brown or soggy leaves, leaving the roots firmly in the ground and the plant will likely recover.