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Assessing the Damage

Updated: Jan 12, 2023

The "flash freeze" event in late December 2023 really took a toll on our landscapes. We are seeing lots of brown foliage and many plants have defoliated. Stay calm, and lets assess the damage before you start digging up plants.

There will be some unexpected casualties, but many of your plants will pleasantly surprise you and rebound in the spring. It is also early in the Winter season, and more freezes are likely. Your plants need the brown foliage to protect them for the next 6 weeks.

Our woody plants (azaleas, camellias, abelia, distylium, sunshine ligustrum ...) took a hit. These plants - although sometimes evergreen - are likely going to defoliate. The brown leaves will fall off. However, what we are seeing is that most of the woody stems are still green and very much alive. These plants will flush back out in the spring. You may have some cane dieback, which will need to be pruned, but I would wait until closer spring... mid February before you reach for the pruners.

Our woody perennials (roses, hydrangeas ...) are going to be fine. When new growth begins to flush out in the spring, you may some cane dieback which will need to be pruned. You will cut in small increments until you see green.

Some perennials (agapanthus, daylilies ...) are mush. This is normal. You can go ahead and clean up the mushy flesh to tidy up the garden. Just be careful not to remove the green base. That will serve as the base of our new plants in late spring.

The biggest surprise was how hard the freeze hit our winter annuals. Kale, cabbage, snapdragons, dianthus and violas took a bit hit. I plan to cut back my snapdragons and see if they will come back in the spring for their big spring show! The pansies and violas are already making a comeback. Don't be too quick to rip up these annuals. They may come back and reach their full potential in the coming months. If you don't have time in your schedule to wait and need to replace... Akins restocked today!

We may have some bark split and trunk damage on deciduous trees such as crepe myrtles and live oaks. It is too early to tell. Some signs may not show up until later in the year.

The key takeaway... practice patience and lets access the damage before you take action. You can start dreaming about making changes in the garden. If you lost some beloved plants, rejoice in the fact that you can take stock of what survived and you have the opportunity to plant something you have been eyeing to replace lost plants.

Assess - Practice Patience - Clean Up - Replenish

At Akin's we brought in all our plants and protected them from the freeze. Even if the freeze wasn't going to kill them, we wanted them to be pretty, green, and perfect for you!

Come visit and we can help you prepare for Spring! Feel free to reach out if you have any plant specific questions we can answer.

Also keep in mind we have full service landscaping crews that can help you with clean up, assessing the damage, and preparing to replenish your landscape.

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