Learn To Like Ugly

Record-setting winter storm Uri blasted Texas with plummeting temperatures, hazardous ice and arctic conditions that our region has not experienced in decades. Amid the stories of devastation we are heartened by the acts of kindness by individuals and businesses in our community. Those of us who had power, helped others by sharing meals and charging phones; those of us who had water, filled up containers and buckets for their neighbors. Community spirit is strong, and like our plants we are resilient.

It’s OK to carefully remove the frost blankets and assess how your plants weathered the Arctic storms but it’s important to give them time right now. Don’t prune, don’t fertilize, don’t overwater. Just let them be. If there is soft, mushy material, you can remove that, or better yet leave it if you can stand it.

Tree Philodendron in front yard

You won’t know the extent of damage for a while but things may not be as bad as they look. The freeze has killed the leaves of this Tree Philodendron or even killed the whole plant to the ground, but if the plant is well established, it may come back when warmer weather returns. In-ground flowering plants such as impatiens, begonias, angelonias, pentas and ferns may look dead but they could bounce back. Cut off or remove anything that’s a soggy mess and be patient for a few weeks. Losses are inevitable but you’ll be surprised at how resilient plants are, especially natives. Once you’ve cleared out the plants that did not survive, consider it an opportunity to replace them with hardier substitutes.

Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, Montgomery & Harris County Master Gardeners, Houston Botanic Garden, Garden Line with Randy Lemon, Mercer Botanic Gardens and local nurseries all have good information on what to do for your freeze-damaged garden.

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