Step Away from the Pruning Shears! 

I know it’s hard to look at all that damaged, and ugly frost bitten plants and shrubs.  It is very tempting, especially since the weather is so beautiful to head outside and work in the yard.  You must resist.  Your plants will thank you later.  You don’t want to cut 1 single leaf or branch until the risk of another freeze is only visible in the rear view mirror. 

Let me throw some science at you.  I’ll take you on a trip back to 7th grade life science (I know because I used to teach it).  Every living thing is made up of cells and cells are mostly water (over 70%).  As water freezes, it expands.  Freeze damage is caused by those cells expanding beyond their elasticity causing them to burst, voila, dead foliage.

So if it’s dead, why not go ahead and cut it off?  Believe it or not that dead foliage is protecting the still living cells in the plant from incurring more damage.   It is acting as a blanket to provide some added insulation.  Another reason for not removing the dead foliage is because knowing WHERE to cut at this time is tricky.  It is best to wait until the plant begins to sprout new growth, which allows the ability to know with 100% certainty what is dead and what is still alive.   You would hate to remove unnecessary growth.  The third reason for waiting to prune is because pruning will trigger the plant to grow.  The new growth will be more susceptible to frost and freeze damage and could damage the plant more than if you just waited until spring.   

This is one of those times in life where having patience pays off.  If you put on blinders and resist the urge to remove the brown leaves and stems, you will be rewarded come spring time.  It is not uncommon to have a freeze in March here in central Florida.  This year’s weather has kept all of us on our toes.  Cover the plants, freeze is coming, uncover the plants it’s going be 80.  Just hang in there a little longer and I assure you it will be worth it.  Follow Ahead of the Grass, Inc. on Facebook for more info and even the green light to begin pruning.