Due to the record setting cold temperatures we experienced on January 7, 2014, we are starting to see wide spread case of cold damage to our evergreen ornamental plants. Cold injury can occur to all parts of plants including flower buds, leaves, stems, trunks and even roots.
Typically, we first notice cold damage on the leaves of our ornamental evergreen plants. The damaged plant’s leaves discolor and turn brown to a grayish black color (see image). You may notice your broadleaf evergreen plants such as Azaleas, Gardenia, Indian Hawthorn and Loropetalum leaves turning brown along with light to heavy leaf drop.
We may experience cold damage to flower buds on Azaleas, Camellias, Loropetalum and other flowering woody ornamentals. Cold damage to flower buds can reduce flowering in the spring or in some cases, we can have a total loss of blooms. You can check flower buds for cold damage by removing several buds and cutting the buds open to inspect the condition. If the tissue inside the flower bud is green your flower buds are safe. If the tissue is a brown color or darken, the buds have cold damage.
Another problem which may occur is stem damage or bark splitting. We will not know if we have stem damage or bark splitting until spring.
What to do?
Our recommendation for now is to wait and see. Wait until spring to see what damage may have occurred. If the foliage is brown and unsightly you can take a rake and shake the damaged leaves off the plants for now. No reason to start pruning away what you think is damaged because it still may be alive. Once spring growth begins, you will be able to determine if you have stem damage or bark damage. Heavy pruning should be delayed until new growth appears in the spring. Waiting ensures you are not removing healthy wood.
If we can be of service, or if you have questions please contact us at 770-923-0387.
Simply Green Lawn Care PLUS Team