Frost Damage in Ornamental Landscapes

The local newscasts have been showing us how the recent frosts have decimated the fruit crops around the state. What hasn’t made the news but has been happening outside your own home is damage to your ornamental and perennial landscapes.

Japanese (disectum) maple damage

This past weekend had two days of clear skies which resulted in pretty good frosts. Plants that had been holding their own finally sustained some damage. Those growing away from buildings and in open areas suffered the most. Most of the calls we have been receiving concern Japanese Maples and Hosta. Other plants showing signs of frost damage are weigela, spirea, and some hydrangea.

Japanese (palmatum) maple damage

Most of the damaged plants should recover just fine. They just may not be as attractive as we would like them to be. Time will tell. The damage has not been too severe up to this point. Dead leaves and shoots that are starting to dry out may be removed at this time. Hold off on pruning back any live stems as they may be able to generate new leaves.

This recent damage was not as bad as what we had a few years ago when we had a hard frost in May. At that time you could drive through some neighborhoods and see one house after another with wilted Japanese Maples and big beds of yellowed Hosta. It was a sad sight. Let’s hope that we have seen the end of the frosts for this year. Although it has been warm the past few days, predictions for the rest of the month are still for cooler temperatures. It is best to keep an eye on the weather and be prepared to protect your tender plants if needed.

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