Old Man Winter really can be a nuisance sometimes. Blowing in, making our hands all dry and our hair all brittle, forcing us to turn up the heat and drag out our winter clothes, and picking on poor defenseless flowers in our garden. Of course, he also brings brilliant fall colors, the relaxing crackle of a cozy fire in the fireplace, the absolute need to make hot chocolate with extra marshmallows, and every kid’s dream….SNOW! So, I can’t say I dislike Old Man Winter entirely. And tho I can’t offer much help with dry hands or brittle hair, I can offer some advice for those poor flowers he’s been picking on.
Frostbitten plants aren’t pretty. Black tips, mushy stems, curled leaves, wilted blooms. Your first instinct is probably to rip them right out the ground, or at the very least trim away the dying parts of the plants. But your mother was right when she said patience was a virtue. Patience is exactly what you need to bring those plants back to life.
So first things first, understand that some plants aren’t meant for cold weather. If you still have begonias or impatiens in your garden for example, you really don’t need to try to save them. They weren’t designed for the cold weather. But if you have perennials, shrubs, or cold weather flowers like pansies and snapdragons, don’t give up on them. They will most likely come back all on their own if you give them the time they need.
Second, resist the urge to prune. Pruning will only lead to new plant growth. New plant growth is tender and fragile. It won’t survive the next frost and will result in even more frost damage to your already ailing plants and shrubs. Don’t fertilize them either. This will also lead to new plant growth. So put the clippers away until around March or April, when the temperature is warmer and the chance of frost has passed. Once you see new growth on the plant, you can fertilize them again.
And thirdly, keep watering your plants. Even tho it looks like the plant is dead, it probably isn’t entirely a goner. So just keep watering your plants just like you always do. And when the weatherman predicts another frost, cover them up just like you always do. Remember woven fabrics provide more protection from frost than sheets of plastic.
Then just sit back and wait for Old Man Winter to take a nap and you will see happy blooms again in no time. We also suggest stocking up on some cocoa and marshmallows as well. It won’t help revive your plants, but it’s guaranteed to help YOU survive the winter…