GARDENING: Freeze damage on plants – no worries!?!

If a plant is already stressed from a bad winter, last summer’s dry spell, etc., it may not have enough energy to leaf out a second time.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Temperatures two weeks ago plummeted (4/21 and 22) and many plants in the area were hit with a freeze or hard frost. Prior to that we had a couple of weeks of nice growing weather.

My asparagus has been frozen twice since it started coming up in early April. When asparagus freezes, it kills the growing tips and consequently, that spear doesn’t grow any more.

The night before a predicted freeze we pick it all close to the ground, no matter the size. Anything that was still underground is protected and we have been picking since. I love fresh asparagus right out of the field.

I had several other trees get fried from the freeze as well. In my backyard, I have three small Japanese maples planted in the same bed. The one in the middle was toasted while the other two were fine.

The difference is the stage of growth of the leaves. The one that froze had smaller, newly emerging leaves. The others were already leafed out and hardened off somewhat.

The same thing happened to my Hosta. I had some in one bed that were protected enough and didn’t freeze but my Empress Wu, in another bed, got hit.

As said many times before, it depends on the stage of development of the plant. What I don’t think I have mentioned before is the location is also a consideration.

Hostas that were hit grow in a bed alongside an open field with the potential for no protection. The ones that were fine are along the road, which gives off a little more warmth in that area to provide protection.

Hopefully, we are out of the woods now and won’t have any more freezes. I do, however, expect a frost, so be careful about putting any tomatoes and peppers in the ground just yet.

In terms of the Hostas or any perennials that might have been damaged, cut off any of the dead leaves. Remove them as far down as you can go without cutting the growth tips of the new leaves.

For the trees, do nothing. Typically, when trees lose their leaves this early in the spring, they have enough energy to leaf out again. At least I hope that is what mine plan to do. I have seen plants completely defoliated in the early spring and leaf out again.

If a plant is already stressed from a bad winter, last summer’s dry spell, etc., it may not have enough energy to leaf out a second time. Just wait and see. Take good care of the plant during a drought in the next season to rebuild its reserves.

Finally, how do your boxwoods look this season? I cut all the Volutella stem blight out of mine and the new growth is filling in and covering the bare spots.

Remember that broadleaved evergreens store their energy in the leaves so it may take some time for the growth to cover up bare spots. Be patient!

Pamela Corle-Bennett is the state master gardener volunteer coordinator and horticulture educator for Ohio State University Extension. Contact her by email at

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

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