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Dallas Morning News - June 24, 2021

Cold Weather Damage Update


We now know that covering plants before last February's freeze was very important but there's an important detail learned. The translucent, light weight, white fabrics known as floating row covers or frost blankets are far superior for cold weather protection than any solid or opaque tarps, blankets, bed sheets or commercial coverings. These heavier materials block the sunlight and don't breathe so left on after the temperatures start to warm up can stress and even damage the plants. Plus the solid covers like the green ones common sold in garden centers didn't protect against the freeze nearly as well.


I only tried the green covers because all the garden centers had sold out of white "floating" row cover products. My advice is to stock up now on the good stuff while it is available instead of waiting too late like I did this past winter.


Shrubs completely dead to the ground should be removed and replaced


For a recap of the freeze damage, Texas lost large numbers of pittosporum, loropetalum, ligustrum, loquat, Chinese tallow and Arizona ash. Even though many of you have already replanted some of these fatalities, I don't advise it. We may not any time soon have another winter as severe as the past February's – but we might.


Fig tree dead tops should be removed and the basal sprouts allowed to regrow

Figs can be allowed to regrow in bushy form or trimmed to have only 3 stems


It's now time to make decisions on some of the plants that have been damaged. Most of the shrubs that are completely brown are not going to come back from the dead, so they can be removed. Any that have green sucker growth at the base are iffy but if you want to try, cut the dead top growth away and apply organic fertilizer if you haven't already. They might regrow and look decent, but planting new fresh plants might be best. Lacebark elms and others having the trunk bark completely separated from the tree should be removed, even if there's still some green foliage.


My bay tree with basal sprouts regrowing


My bay tree with many of the basal sprouts trimmed away. More will be removed later


Dead limbs on the top growth of red oaks should be carefully pruned away but there is no great rush. Good arborists are busy and the work can wait. Same for the dead branches that are common inside the canopy of live oaks. Some trees killed all the way to the ground such as figs, bay, crape myrtles and others should have the dead tops removed and allow the plants to regrow from the basal sprouts. Remove most of the shoots to allow only the two or three strongest ones to be left to grow, but don't remove them all at once. Remove a few each week so the ones left aren't shocked.


Keep an eye on the trees that have a lighter than normal color. Now that the weather is hot some of these trees may go down hill in a hurry and even die. The best pro-active work to help all the damaged trees is the Sick Tree Treatment if you haven't already applied it.





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