Freeze Remedy – Stage 1

gillnurseryBest Practices, Problem Solving, Timely Tips120 Comments

Over the next few weeks, we will be addressing the freeze damage to plants which everyone has suffered. We are working on a video giving easy to follow instructions about what to prune and how.

It is not critical, and in fact, may be too early, to start most pruning immediately. If you have palm leaves hanging down, you may prune them as soon as this last freeze (hopefully) passes. Gingers, which look blowtorched, may be cut to 18″ tall this weekend if desired. Blackened, wilted herbaceous plants like Mexican petunia (Ruellia) and shrimp plant can be cut close to the ground. But woody shrubs like ixora and plumbago, small trees like citrus, and sad looking philodendrons should be left alone another week until we can more closely determine the level of damage, and therefore where to prune.

Watch for us to address these recovery issues here in the Garden News and on social media. Email us at info@gillnursery or message us on Facebook and Instagram with your related questions, so our upcoming instruction video is as complete as possible in helping you through this temporary setback.

– James Gill

120 Comments on “Freeze Remedy – Stage 1”

    1. So happy I checked your site! We had Jurassic park size philodendrons , now we know to wait a week….same with lemon tree!

    1. What is your recommendation for cardboard palms? I have some in ground and some huge ones in pots. Also, how can I determine hiw far I need to trim back inground hibiscus? Thanks for your help. This has just been so awful!! Thanks again.
      Lisa Kelley

      1. Cardboard palms may be dead, especially in pots. Remove dead leaves and wait for months, or dissect one looking for firm live tissue to decide whether to wait on the others or not.

  1. Thank you so very much. Our foxtail palms look pitiful and I’m so stressed that we may have lost them. They are 5 years old and were so healthy, just beautiful. Please address these if you would. So many of us Islanders have Foxtail Palms. They are hardy and extremely easy to grow and maintain.

    1. From what I’ve seen, I am guessing most foxtails and cuban royals are dead. But only time will tell.

    1. Squeeze the stem, if it gives, go down farther until firm tissue to prune. Contact local plumeria society for more info.

  2. Thank you for the information about the ginger plant cant wait for the video how about pony tail palm when to prune dead limbs mine was 10 foot tall

    1. Squeeze the stem, if it is firm you are probably good, if not keep going lower to trim at firm wood. If the ponytail is potted but not brought in, it may be dead completely. If it is in the ground, it is likely to be alive at least at the base, and can regrow nicely over the next few years.

  3. Thanks so much James and all!
    I’m following along and surely will prune accordingly. See yall when the suns shining.

    1. Thank you James. So helpful. What about bird of paradise. The trash collectors are coming to our neighborhood this week and we were wondering if we can prune them now.

      1. What is your recommendation for cardboard palms? I have some in ground and some huge ones in pots. Also, how can I determine hiw far I need to trim back inground hibiscus? Thanks for your help. This has just been so awful!! Thanks again.
        Lisa Kelley

    1. Nothing you can do to “save” them. You will just remove dead leaves from the palm and give it time, if the heart is frozen it will not produce new leaves. The bougainvillea will come back from the roots if it is planted in the ground. Tomorrow, scratch the bark and look for rich green. That is where it is still alive, but it might be all the way down to the ground. Check and see. My mom cut them to the ground several times back in the 50s and 60s and they always came back.

  4. Please tell everyone the Plumeria Society of South Texas is a resource for their Plumeria issues if they didn’t dig them up. Our fb page can be found by searching PSST or Plumeria Society of South Texas.

  5. I’ll be eager to see whether the trees in the King’s Forest recover. I’m concerned about the wild olives, poinciana, and anacacho orchids.

    1. I have two anacacho orchid trees in my yard near Kerrville and the have survived temps as low as 15 in the past.

  6. How long will it take for citrus trees like lime and valley lemons to show damage? What can we do to help them recover?

    1. You will scratch the bark and check for green, may have to wait a few more days. Cut back to live wood above the graft. If there is no live wood until below the graft, remove the tree or attempt to do a new graft (difficult and iffy). Remove any sprouts that occur from below the graft. Fertilize twice in spring and once again September 15, and water weekly if we don’t get rain, to help it recover as fast as possible. We have made it through this in the past and we will again.

    1. Probably all leaves are dead. Prune close to the ground and it will likely recover. It will be slow, once growth resumes water and fertilize regularly but not excessively, and you will grow a beautiful new plant.

    1. Scratch the bark on the schefflera to see where it is still alive, and cut at that point. It will regrow! The trunk on the philodendron may get mushy if it has frozen , you can either just cut that trunk way back close to the ground and let it regrow, or wait a few weeks and the squeeze the trunk til you find where it is still firm, and cut there.

  7. Potted “powder puff” and sword ferns pruning time?
    In ground established fox tail cut to above ground?
    Boxwood started new growth but wind burned
    Looking forward to seeing video!! Thanks for all the years of help

    1. Potted powder puff and sword fern may be dead unless they were brought in. Prune and watch for new growth, keep your fingers crossed. Do not fertilize until new growth emerges.

    1. Yes, prune all dead leaves, which may be all leaves, but it can regrow from the base. Good care, and it can be a pretty plant again by the end of this summer.

    1. Nothing you can do to “save”. Look for green under the bark, even just down at ground level. Prune to that point, then start watering and fertilizing to regrow the plant.

  8. I have an Indian carnation that looks pitiful. Also, a lot of my succulents look worrisome…large aloes, smaller star-like aloe types, devil’s backbone, crotons. Thank you so much for all you do to make Corpus Christi beautiful (again)!

    1. Croton and Indian carnation, look for green under the bark, even just down at ground level. Prune to that point, then once you see new growth, start watering and fertilizing to regrow the plant. Aloes and other succulents, remove mushy tissue and hope for regrowth.

    1. Prune back spider lilies, remove mushy parts of aloe and moses, wait for regrowth. Most likely they will survive and look good by end of summer.

  9. I’d love to know about hibiscus and roses. Also, I am afraid the aloe vera and desert rose plants are gone. Is there any way to save them?

    1. Hibiscus is likely dead close to ground. Check for green under bark and cut to that point. Roses should be fine. Aloe and desert rose if in pots may be dead and chuckable. But you could dig down and see if any roots are firm in a week or so, and maybe they will regrow.

    1. Aloe and desert rose if in pots may be dead and chuckable. But you could dig down and see if any roots are firm in a week or so, and maybe they will regrow.

  10. Hi James,
    Phillip did landscaping design for us in 2019 that included Russelia, hamelia, agave attenuata, wandering jew – what about these? Thanks for all your help.

    1. Agave attenuata is probably dead, others may well recover from roots. Prune this coming week or next. No rush to water and fertilize, that will be appropriate when you start to see new growth.

    1. Probably dead to the ground, but will regrow from the stump and roots. Scratch the bark to see if there is any live tissue further up, bright green, not sickly yellow green.

  11. Hi James,
    I have two giant staghorn fern‘s that we covered but unfortunately they look really really brown. I am wondering are they done for or is there anything I can do

  12. When will be the best time to trim the oleanders. They are about 12-15′ tall and most are brown. It is a wall of them about 30′ long.

    1. If you wait just a few more days you should be able to scratch bark and see where you still have green. Cut at that point.

  13. I have 3 large Sago Palms in pots and the leaves are white on top a n d yellowish green lower. Had them for years. Devastated and hope they can be saved

    1. Many are dead. If the tip pulls out, you have a very small chance of survival. But if it doesn’t irk you to look at it, you can wait a few months to see if any new leaves emerge.

  14. What could I do with my banana trees? I had about 60 of them and some have fallen over at the ground but I have some still standing, basically the trunk part. What can I do tell if they might have any kind of chance to grow or do I need to take them all down to the ground? I’m so sad about these as they were my favorite.

    1. Probably all dead to the ground, but squeeze the trunks of the standing ones, and if you find any firmness, cut to that point. You will not set any fruit this year, but they all should regrow from the below ground suckers. Thin them out if necessary (probably).

  15. Hi James! Should plants be watered now and cutback? Or just cutback from where you see green bark and then wait to water? When can you fertilize?

  16. Thanks for all the info. All the comments so far has covered everything for me except the staghorn ferns and figured it was going to be a wait and see game. I have in the past cut back my bird of Paradise, almost to the ground, due to bugs. It came back beautifully.
    You’ll be busy this spring for sure!

          1. Yes, expected. If it is in a pot it may be dead. If in the ground, it will maybe grow new sprouts from the base. Just wait and see, and you can cut off any collapsing portions.

  17. Thank you so much for all your information on how to save or bury our frozen plants. You are a life saver. Appreciated so much from George West Texas. See you soon for new plants

    1. Cut off dead leaves and wait. Like maybe 4 months! They will be slow to put out new leaves, if they are in pots they are likely dead, but if in the ground I would keep them and see if they recover.

  18. Is St Augustine dead or most likely just dormant? Also, what about a Jatropha and an Avocado tree? Several fronds collapsed on my queen palms but the newest vertical fronds at the top look fine so I am hoping they will be ok. Thanks so much for your advice!!

    1. St. Augustine will likely come back. Wait until it is actively growing before you fertilize. Jatropha and avocado most likely dead to the ground. Queens palm is questionable, just wait and see. Palm video should be out on our email
      this Thursday.

  19. We have a screened in patio and pulled the shades down had five huge house plants inside they were at least four feet tall, corn plant, elephant ears schefalerra etc all froze and the leaves laying down and black in color. Can they be brought back or history? Thank you for all your help with all of us gardeners

    1. If you had supplemental heat then a chance. Squeeze the stems, scratch the bark. Cut away dead. Wait for live to show.

  20. Mr. Gill, what about a frozen firebush? Can I cut it down to the ground? I am doing the same for foxtail fern and asparagus. Thank you.

  21. One other question….I have a ponytail palm that is about 5 feet tall. It still has leaves but they are very droopy……just keep watering it? Thanks.

    1. If the ponytail is in a pot it is most likely dead. In the ground it may sprout from the base. Wait and see.

    1. If the plumeria are in pots they are most likely dead. If in the ground, probably dead to the ground and may come back from there. Plumbago same, but most sure to come back from ground. Citrus have not yet shown the extent of their damage, we don’t know.

      1. Both plumeria & plumbago are in ground. Will wait to see. Lemon tree leaves are all yellowed. It had the most blooms ever before the freeze. Thanks for your reply. Much appreciated.

    1. If unprotected and in a pot, probably dead. Check stems and roots for firmness, if you find any, cut away soft damaged tissue and set dry/callous.

  22. What should I do with my black looking firecracker plants and my very brown looking lantana?

  23. What about rosemary that’s in the ground. Many leaves are falling off, but it’s still mostly green.

  24. St Augustine grass looks dead but weeds look healthy . Please advise as to steps to take to help lawn.

    1. Keep mowed so weeds do not get to set seed. Water if needed but most lawns seem to have some moisture present and better not to keep wet and encourage fungus. Fertilize once you have much green and active grass growth. Subscribe to our Gill Garden News for regular tips about whats going on in the lawn and garden.

  25. HI. Any advice on giant bird of paradise? All leaves brown and dropping/broken. If I cut the brown leaves, it will leave only the stalks/”fan” part of the plant. How low do you cut it? Thanks

  26. Most of the palm leaves on our Pygmy palms are brown but are still firm and sprouting upward. We have trimmed the broken and drooping palm leaves. Should we also trim the firm brown palm leaves?

  27. I have a mature Japanese blueberry tree, about 15 feet tall. The leaves were green, now they’ve turned yellowish and are falling off. I did the scratch test and some branches are green and others not as green. Should I wait to prune any limbs and see if there is any new leaf growth?

  28. Hi James, what should I do about honeysuckle, Esperanza, and jathropa?

    We have some huge orange honeysuckle that are very mature and several that are about fence height roughly 2 years old, on the newer ones I haven’t been able to find any green under the bark. We also have large mature jathropa (however you spell that) and Esperanza.

    Any advise is greatly appreciated!

  29. I’m wondering if our huge 30ft rain tree will make it. It hasn’t started showing any regrowth yet. Could the freeze have postponed its leafing out?

    1. I have not examined any rain trees (Chinese Flame Tree) yet but it is said to be cold hardy as far north as Dallas.

  30. 1) I used the copper fungicide on my 15 year old Queen palms about a week ago. No more bent fronds but no
    hint of green from the core either. Should I repeat the fungicide? If so, how often?

    2) My Navel Orange tree has been pruned big time, furtilized and watered. No leaves or buds. There is still a
    hint of green when I do the scratch test on the trunk. Is there anything else I can do? Do you think it has a

    1. I had some hopes for queens palm, but I have not seen any with new growth yet, so I’m getting pessimistic about their chances. Nothing to do but wait, but not so much hope now. I just today observed 2 citrus trees unprotected that were sprouting. Not ready to declare them survivors, but worth waiting another week or two. Do not try to force them with water and fertilizer, just wait and observe.

  31. What should I do about my mature Chinese flame tree which appears dead to tips, but is throwing out green leafy branches low down from crotch in trunk. Thanks!

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