Nursey manager talks freeze’s impact on plants

JACKSON, Tenn. — This past winter, an extreme arctic blast caused temperatures to drop over 50 degrees in a matter of hours. The aftermath was dead plants, shrubs and trees that have yet to recover.

Winter And Plants

James Wick, the Nursery Manager at Morris Nursery and Landscapes, said the sudden drop in temperatures in December was unlike anything seen before.

“We’re seeing more winter damage than we have probably since the 1980 freeze. What we’re seeing, it actually wasn’t the temperature that hit the plants, but it was the rate of temperature change. We had a flash freeze, where the plants were not quite adapted to the temperature yet,” Wick said.

But, there is good news. Wick said to be patient and to not lose hope just yet. It is expected for 80 to 90 percent of plants to recover within the next few weeks.

“It’s too early to actually know what our damage is, so the advice is to wait until towards the end of April and see what plants recover,” Wick said. “They’re going to weave back, from then you can go back and prune as needed.”

It is recommended to get rid of any unwanted clippings and dead foliage, or reuse them to help aid plant recovery.

“Jackson, I believe, has a curbside pickup where you don’t want to block a sidewalk or put them on the road. But take your clippings and put them on the side of the road or you can compost and chip them,” Wick said.

It is important for gardeners to prepare months ahead of time to prevent any harsh winter weather damage to plants.

“Some things you can do, or not do, in the summer and fall to reduce winter entry, don’t prune your shrubs or fertilize your shrubs after the first of August. That keeps them from going into dormancy and increases the chance of damage,” Wick said.

It can often take until early summer to be sure some plants are dead from frost. In the meantime, prune out dead material and check for green beneath the bark.

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