Put down those pruners!

Tips on dealing with frost-damaged plants

By Barbara Wood, Special to the Almanac

With nighttime temperatures dropping near or below freezing for more than a week, Peninsula gardeners are seeing frost damage in their gardens not experienced for many years.

Once the weather warms up, the temptation may be great to rush into the garden and cut back everything that appears to be have been damaged. But those in the know say one thing – "Don't do it."

"Do nothing until the spring," says Portola Valley's Danna Breen, local horticultural expert, garden designer and owner of Danna Breen Designs.

"When you prune you stimulate growth and you do not want to do that now," with more cold weather ahead, she says.

By spring, Ms. Breen says, she means around mid-March when nights are consistently in the 50s.

"You also want to assess in spring," says Ms. Breen. "There are plants like begonias which may re-sprout." Look for any new growth around the base of plants before taking them out, she says.

To minimize the damage in cold weather, make sure the garden is well-watered, she advises. "It is important for water to be in vascular system of plant. It is a form of protection. Without water, and we have had so little rain, plants do wither and die," Ms. Breen said.

When spring does arrive, "plants will need to be cleaned up, because no doubt many will have been lost, but you just don't want to stimulate new and fragile growth to more cold nights," she says.

Plants such as citrus may appear to be dead, but with patience and warm weather. new growth may appear.

Even the plant wizards among us, like Ms. Breen, are not exempt from frost damage. "I forgot to close the window in my green house and I just went and saw that my Hibiscus "Haight Ashbury" has shriveled up," she says.


There are no comments yet. Please share yours below.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Choose a category: *

Since this is the first comment on this story a new topic will also be started in Town Square! Please choose a category that best describes this story.

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

To Cambodia With Love
By Laura Stec | 4 comments | 3,514 views

Life in fast forward
By Jessica T | 3 comments | 1,716 views

By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,701 views

My Morning Off
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 1,239 views

Itís Not About The Officer Or The MomóItís About All Of Us
By Erin Glanville | 9 comments | 857 views