Gardening Help FAQs

Here are answers to some of the most common questions we receive about garden plants. You will find concise information on general gardening techniques as well as plant selection and care. For detailed information on specific plant pests and problems refer to our Common Garden Pests and Problems page.

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Horticulture Questions and Answers

How will a late spring freeze damage my plants?

In the aftermath of a spring frost or freeze gardeners must be patient with their damaged plants, especially trees and shrubs.

The worst injury is usually limited to open flowers, new buds, and new foliage. Spent flowers will be shed and most of the damaged leaves will continue to deteriorate in the days ahead, eventually drying up and falling off. Expect the appearance of your garden to decline aesthetically for a period of weeks before fresh, new growth returns. It may take until mid-summer in some cases before your garden looks “normal” again.

Perennials with damaged leaves and stems can be cut back to the ground and will respond with rapid new growth. However, resist the temptation to prune frosted trees and shrubs. Healthy well-established plants will produce new growth. How quickly this occurs will depend on individual species, location in the landscape, and the severity of the damage sustained. Wait until mid-summer to remove dead branches when you can clearly see which parts are dead.

Resist the temptation to fertilize heavily. With the loss of flower buds, all of the tree's energy will be channeled into vigorous vegetative regrowth. Fertilizer could actually produce excesses of growth that will have to be pruned at a later date, creating higher maintenance in the long term.

Water cautiously. Avoid soggy conditions which can do more harm than good, but do irrigate during long dry spells. Reducing water stress may be the single best thing you can do to help your plants recover this summer.

Overall, consider spring freezes only a temporary setback. Given time and patience, our gardens will recover.