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Texas A&M Freeze Damage Recommendations

March 6, 2021

Evergreen Woody Shrubs


Examples: Aabelia, Asian jasmine, azaleas, banana shrub, camellias,eleagnus, fatsia, fig ivy, gardenias, Indian hawthorn, Japanese blueberry, ligustrum, loquat, loropetalum, oleander, pittosporum, privet, red tip photinia, sasanquas, sweetolive, Texas sage, viburnum, wax myrtle, etc.


Recommendation: Wait until they start to resprout from the existing stems or the ground, then cut away dead and leave what is alive and growing. Split stems will be dead. There will most likely be no blooms this year and all old foliage will most likely fall off.




Discussion: Many roses in Texas and the South have taken a severe hit and will have varying degrees of freeze damage. At first glance it appears that many will freeze back and re-sprout. Hybrid teas, grandifloras, floribundas, polyanthas, and modern shrub roses like Knockouts and Drifts are considered more cold hardy while roses like Teas, Chinas, Noisettes, Banksias, etc. will have suffered the most damage.


Recommendation: Once you see which stems are brown/dead and which stems are green and re-sprouting, cut them back with loppers or hand pruners, sprinkle a bit of lawn fertilizer, and they should look nice again by fall.



Discussion: Native vines like coral honeysuckle and crossvine may be just fine while others like Carolina jessamine and confederate jasmine may be damaged. Others like coral vine and creeping fig may have been killed. English ivy may have had foliage damage only. Deciduous vines like wisteria will be fine.


Recommendations: Once you see the stems split open and the plants re-sprout, cut them back to that point, even if it’s at the ground.

Crape myrtles:


Discussion: There will be different amounts of damage on different cultivars in different microclimates.


Recommendation:  Don’t do anything until they start to sprout then cut back to where new growth is occurring, even if it's at the ground. They will grow back vigorously.



Discussion: Other than ice damage to southern magnolias, they appear to be fine like many native plants are. Deciduous magnolias lost their flower buds but the tree will be fine.


Palm Trees and Sago “Palms”


Discussion: Many will be damaged or dead but do nothing but cut off the dead fronds for now. It will take months to see if they resprout. Historically the only palms reliably cold hardy here in north Texas are Mexican/Texas sabal palms, Brazoria palms, dwarf palmettos, and a number of windmill palms.

Fruit trees


Discussion: Most are cold hardy except avocado, citrus, pomegranates, olives, and

figs which will have varying degrees of damage and death.  Open flowers and fat buds on blueberries, peaches, and pears froze, but the trees should be alive and sprout as normal. Unfortunately fruit production will be limited. Blackberries should be fine.


Recommendation: Do nothing for now and prune back to live growth when they sprout.


Live Oaks


Discussion:  All foliage will be lost which would have been lost when the new foliage came out in spring anyway. There however may be varying degrees of damage including death.


Recommendation:  There is nothing you can do right now but wait. Live oaks are coastal trees not used to zero degree weather.



DIscussion:  Pine in some areas have turned brown. This is mostly likely just freeze damage to the needles but the buds and stems should be fine. Texas native pines along with all our other native plants have learned to survive periodic Arctic blasts.



Deciduous Trees


Examples: Ash, baldcypress, blackgum, Chinese pistache, deciduous magnolias, dogwoods, ginkgos, other oaks, Japanese maples, pecan, possumhaw holly, vitex, willow, etc.


Discussion: Most deciduous trees and shrubs (those that drop their leaves in winter) will be just fine although they may have lost their bloom buds (deciduous

magnolias). Mophead and lace cap hydrangeas may have different degrees of damage.


Recommendation: Only prune away what is dead once they sprout. Oakleaf hydrangreas are probably fine.



Discussion: Some such as aspidistra, English ivy, ferns, and liriope may have foliage damage only. Others like Asian jasmine may have suffered even more damage. 


Recommendation:  Cut off, shear, or mow the dead leaves, and most will grow back after the nights get warm and the days longer.

St. Augustine lawns


Discussion:  There will possibly be dead areas and freeze damage.


Recommendation:  Mow as normal but avoid pre-emergent herbicides which can damage injured grass. Do not fertilize until nights are warmer in mid-April and do not water until June, July, and August, once per week, one inch per application. Watering in the spring contributes to gray leaf spot and brown patch.  Bermudagrass and zoysiagrass are more cold hardy and should be just fine.



Discussion:  Many perennials are cold hardy but many grown in Texas are more tender and tropical (confederate rose, fire bush, fire spike, lantana, Mexican heather, Mexican petunia, and lots more) and may not make it when the

ground freezes.

Recommendation:  Cut away the dead branches(wait until April 1 if you can stand it) and wait till mid spring to see what comes up.



Examples: corms, rhizomes, etc. 


Discussion:  Although the foliage has been damaged and many blooms lost on spring bulbs, lost should survive with possibly reduced bloom next year due to less foliage this year. Some daffodils may still bloom and tulips seem OK. Spider lilies (lycoris) and oxblood lilies lost their foliage but will be fine with possibly reduced bloom this fall. Cannas and Hymenocallis may have rhizome and bulb damage if the ground froze.


Recommendation:  You will have to wait and see if any, some, are all of the clumps come back.

Ornamental Grasses


Discussion:  With the exception of purple fountain grass, lemon grass, napier grass, and vetiver, most are cold hardy and will sprout back from the crown.


Recommendation:  Go ahead and cut them back to the crowns now and wait until early summer to see what comes back.



Discussion:  Many herbs like rosemary and bay laurel will be dead and will need to be replaced, certainly those in pots which are always less cold hardy than those in the ground. Some rosemary cultivars are more cold hardy than others but very few can survive zero degrees.



Most were frozen and will need to be replanted including onions, potatoes and cool season greens. There’s still time to get in a late crop of cool season plants like lettuce, greens, cabbage, broccoli, etc. It’s still too early for tomatoes and


Native Plants and Wildflowers


Examples:  Texas bluebonnets, Texas mountain laurel, Texas persimmon, Texas redbud, Texas red oak, and lots more


Discussion:  Unless they are planted north of their native range, most are perfectly fine as they evolved to deal with periodic Arctic blasts and blue northers.



Examples:  Agaves, aloes, cactus, manfredas, opuntia, sedums, yuccas, etc.


Discussion:  Some of these plants are very tender and will be dead while others are more-cold hardy and will be fine.


Recommendation:  When it warms up and the mush dries, peel it away and see what comes back.



Examples:  Allamanda, asparagus fern, bananas, bleeding heart, Boston fern, bottlebrush, bougainvillea, brugmansia, elephant ears, esperanza, mandevillea,

Mexican heather, plumbago, pride of barbados, purple fountain grass, trailing

lantana, tropical hibiscus, etc.

Discussion:  The general rule on tropicals is if the air freezes the tops die and if the ground or soil freezes the whole plant dies.  

Recommendation:  Cut away the dead stems (wait until April 1 if you can stand it) and wait till mid spring to see what comes up. Those left outside in pots are probably dead and should be replaced in April/May when the nights warm up.

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