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Cold damage symptoms

By: Garden Gate staff
If you live in an area that experiences cold winter temperatures, you have likely lost a few plants to low temperatures.

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Cold damage symptoms

If you live in an area that experiences cold winter temperatures, you have likely lost a few plants to low temperatures. Here are some symptoms of cold-damage and some strategies for surviving the cold.

DIEBACK – Dieback is caused by severe cold and rapid changes in temperature. Woody plants, like privet, survive, but only the bottom part of the plant will leaf out in spring. The roots are hardy and the lower portion of the plant was likely protected by snow cover or leaf litter. Bud blast is similar to dieback, but the cold kills the flower buds of early spring blooming plants. This is common in Northern gardens with forsythia and rhododendron. For plants that are susceptible to dieback or bud blast, try insulating them from the cold by making a circle of fencing around the plant and filling it with straw or dried leaves. Or choose new plant varieties that can withstand cold temperatures without suffering any damage.

PUCKERED AND DEFORMED FOLIAGE – These symptoms occur when tender leaves are hit by a hard frost in early spring. This is usually only a minor cosmetic problem that won’t damage or weaken the plant; it just won’t look as good. You can remove the worst-looking leaves, but leave as many as possible so the plant can grow.

FROST HEAVE – Tap-rooted perennials, such as coral bells, are most susceptible to frost heaving. Other affected plants are Shasta daisies, blanket flower, garden mums and coreopsis. Alternating freezing and thawing near the soil surface pushes plant roots out of the soil. Tamp the soil back down or the roots will dry out and the plant will die. For plants that are susceptible to heaving, place an extra layer of mulch on top just after the ground freezes. You can also weigh them down with a brick.

Published: Feb. 12, 2008
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