From dead and dying branches to foliage that looks scorched and brown, our gardens have taken a beating from the polar vortex. The frigid air from the Arctic plunged parts of the U.S. into a deep freeze with record low temperatures, injuring trees, shrubs, and other plants in our landscapes.
The winter weather has been wild, but there are steps we can take to repair the damage. Here’s what you might see in your landscape — and what to do about it.
What Causes Cold Damage?
Sudden temperature changes can wreak havoc on even the hardiest of plants. When temperatures drop rapidly, tiny ice crystals form inside tender plant cells, causing them to rupture anywhere from root to leaf tip.
- Lack of leaves or new growth
- Dieback, especially on woody plants
- Scorched-looking leaves and needles
- Wait until the danger of frost has passed. Then cut away dead plant material or prune branches.
- Encourage new leafing and growth by replenishing much-needed nutrients with quality plant food. Here’s what to use for a variety of plant types and conditions:
For Injured Trees, Shrubs and Broadleaf Evergreens:
- Miracle-Gro® Shake ‘n Feed® Flowering Trees & Shrubs Continuous Release Plant Food
- Miracle-Gro® Tree & Shrub Fertilizer Spikes
For Injured Plants:
For Citrus and Deep-South Favorites:
- Miracle-Gro® Fruit & Citrus Tree Fertilizer Spikes
- Miracle-Gro® Shake ‘n Feed® Continuous Release Citrus, Avocado & Mango Plant Food
- Miracle-Gro® Shake ’n Feed® Continuous Release Palm Plant Food
What is Frost Heaving?
Many plants can handle a little frost — but not a continuous frost-thaw cycle. Repeated freezes and thaws can thrust up the pavement, causing buckling, and the same thing can happen to the soil in the landscape.
Alternating periods of freezing and thawing force some perennial plants and grass seedlings out of the ground, exposing their roots and crowns.
- Exposed roots and crowns
- Blackened, spotted or scorched-looking leaves
- Brown patches between leaf veins
- Dark-green or water-soaked-looking foliage
- Cover exposed roots and crowns to an appropriate depth by working Miracle-Gro® Moisture Control® Garden Soil into the existing soil to build up the soil level.
- Insulate plants and keep the soil from drying out by mulching with Scotts® Nature Scapes® Advanced Mulch.
What About Dead Plants?
Sometimes replacement is the only option. Extreme temperatures can cause irreparable cell damage, making it impossible to save the plant. Other times, plants can’t take up enough water or nutrients to survive because the soil is frozen.
- Dead wood or smooth areas without new bark
- Prolonged leaflessness
- Dry buds or lack of budding
- Replant deciduous, evergreen and flowering trees and shrubs, if necessary.
- Before planting, improve soil conditions and give plants a boost of nutrients by mixing Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil Trees & Shrubs into existing soil at a 50:50 ratio.