Caring for Evergreen Woody Shrubs after Winter Storm Uri

Winter Storm Uri is over, but residents of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi are coping with damage to their landscapes. Everything looks terrible, and our first inclination is to go out and water and fertilize.

PLEASE DON’T! The winter storm we just experienced is not a normal situation of a two-day drop below 32 F.

Have Patience and Wait!

Plants store their food in their roots. During a freeze such as Uri, plants used up their food storage to fight the frigid cold. The fertilizer will cause the plants to sprout out too quickly and use up the little food stores it may have left. As it does this, the roots below ground cannot keep up with the growth above ground. If you must use any fertilizer, use a very slow-release organic one, very low in nitrogen.

Watering now will encourage fatal infections of both lawns and landscape plants that have survived. These diseases will not show up until late spring to early summer.

The same rule applies to pre-emergent herbicides. Instead, set your mower to its highest level and mow the tops of the weeds. Most weeds are annuals and rely on reseeding. If you cut the tops off before the heads seed, then you are essentially doing the same thing, but with less stress to the lawn.

 Here are some recommendations for saving and taking care of your damaged plants.

Evergreen woody shrubs

Wait until your “evergreen” woody shrubs resprout before you cut them back. When that happens, then cut away what is dead above the sprout.  Cut split stems from the plant.

You will probably not get any blooms this year. However, if the plant lives, you may get flowers next year. Most, if not all, of the old foliage, will fall away.

Do a scratch test to see if there is green below the bark at the base of the plant.

Here’s a list of common evergreen woody shrubs that grow in our area:

  • Abelia
  • Asian Jasmine
  • Azaleas
  • Banana Shrub
  • Camelias
  • Eleagnus
  • Fatsia
  • Gardenias
  • Indian Hawthorne
  • Japanese Blueberry
  • Ligustrum
  • Loquat,
  • Loropetalum
  • Oleander
  • Pittosporum
  • Privet
  • Sweet olive
  • Texas Sage
  • Viburnum

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