Warmth stimulates recovery from freeze damage.

Pruning at the proper time has been a concern all winter. Dormant pruning was timely as soon as defoliation began. It remains timely almost until bloom. Pollarding and coppicing are generally although unnecessarily a bit later within that range. Spring pruning begins soon after bloom. Pruning of freeze damage starts after the last reasonable threat of frost.

Frost is as variable as the many climates here. Generally, it causes more damage farther inland and at higher elevations. Conversely and generally, it causes less damage closer to the coast and at lower elevations. Many southern coastal climates experience no frost. However, frigid air drains downhill. Within any plateau, the frostiest areas are the lowest.

Last frost dates should help with scheduling of pruning or grooming of freeze damage to vulnerable vegetation. The last frost date for a climate is the average date of its last frost. Frost becomes increasingly unlikely afterward. That is the best time to add warm season vegetables and annuals to the garden. It is also when to begin grooming freeze damage.

If not too unsightly, freeze damage lingers until the last frost date for two primary reasons. It shelters vulnerable tissue below, including any new growth that develops prematurely. Also, removal of such damage stimulates new growth that would be even more exposed and innately more vulnerable to frost. However, priorities change soon after the last frost.

Then, it becomes important to groom or prune away freeze damage prior to generation of fresh new growth. For milder climates, it is already timely to do so. It might be a while for less mild climates. Even for frostless climates, this might be a good time to groom growth that is only incidentally shabby. Such grooming gets more complicated with new growth.

Many zonal geraniums are already extending new growth up through shabby old growth. Removal of such old growth or freeze damage without damaging mingling new growth is no simple task. If new growth stretches for sunlight below old growth, it might flop without support from the old growth. It may be more practical to cut all growth back to regenerate. Canna also develop similar complications.


6 thoughts on “Freeze Damage Necessitates Selective Pruning

  1. A perfect example is our palms. After our December freeze, they all were sporting brown, dead fronds, but every gardening show guru and every gardening columnist said, “Don’t prune them yet!” In the past couple of weeks, crews began clearing dead palm fronds from trees all over town, and believe me — those trees looked weird. But now, after a week, the new fronds are appearing at the top, and some appear to be a foot tall already. The old fronds protected them through what probably has been the last of our cold weather.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly. It is a difficult concept for me, since I want to remove all the unsightly damage as soon as I can. Canna still look shabby here though. I suppose I could groom them now if I were not so busy.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Prune trees are deciduous, so are not damaged by frost, . . . but yes, you could say that. Did you know that dried prunes are now known as dried plums because they are more appealing that way? Well, that is another topic.


      1. Years ago, the prune blossom was selected as the Official Town Flower of Campbell, because prunes used to be the primary commodity there. However, I can find no documentation about that now. Furthermore, no one wants to believe that the prunes that formerly grew in the vast orchards there were not the same as plums. Actually, no one wants to believe that any orchards were ever there.


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