Plant and palm care after the winter storm
Many Texans are worried for their plants, palms and trees after the devastating winter storm we experienced a couple of weeks ago. We wanted to put together a helpful guide to help you navigate the aftermath. The best advice for all plants is to wait to see if they will come back. Most of the evergreen shrubs/trees had their leaves damaged, but will eventually drop them and grow new leaves in the spring. For palms, it’s still a little too soon to tell.
March 1, 2021
Although we don’t expect temperatures to drop as much as they did during the storm, we’re still not out of the woods. On average, Central Texas experiences the last frost between March 1st and March 31st. Waiting to cut back dormant perennials will protect them in case an early pruning stimulates new growth and we experience another frost that will damage the plant.
Palms and Sagos:
Most of the palms we carry at Cantu Nursery are cold hardy for our area (Zone 8b; down to 20 °F) but due to the unprecedented low temperatures, many of these might have been lost or damaged. A good way to test this is to try to pull on the center fronds (new growth). If these are removed easily it means that the crown is rotten and the palm is dead. If these center fronds are strong and sturdy, there’s a chance that the palm will come back with new growth in the spring/summer. Also be on the lookout for soft spots on the trunk and bad odor around the trunk.
Succulents and Cactus:
These are tricky because the age of the plant has a lot to do with survival. Prickly pears (nopales) for example, start developing trunks that harden to be able to hold the weight as the plant gets bigger. These trunks are tough whereas the rest of the plant maintains the characteristics of a “young plant” (easily broken or cut, holding a lot of water, etc). While they might look dead, there is a big chance they’ll come back if they’re cut back to the trunk. Get rid of everything that feels “mushy” and they’ll be good to go as soon as it warms up. Sotols and most yuccas look intact and really taught us a lesson as to how hardy they are. Agaves on the other hand might have been damaged depending on the variety. These can be cut back in a couple of weeks to leave just the center leaves standing (if they are still standing).
Most of our shade trees survived the storm unless they were snapped in half due to the weight of the ice they accumulated in their trunks and leaves. For evergreen trees like Live Oaks, Monterrey Oaks and Mountain Laurels, the leaves might have been damaged but the trees will eventually drop those damaged leaves and get new ones in a few weeks. Deciduous trees will just wake up as usual after some sunny days thinking the storm was nothing but a bad dream *sigh*
Many landscapers and homeowners are eager to bring back their plants, or start doing something to help with their recovery. As tough as it is to look at your plants/palms in the state they’re in right now, we suggest you wait 1-2 more weeks to trim dead leaves/fronds in case we get one more frost this year. You can also start doing a bi-weekly application of SuperThrive or any root stimulator of your choice.