Nixa Hardware

Helping plants injured by recent cold temperatures

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Some plants, such as hydrangea and crepe myrtle, may even die back to ground level, but can recover quickly.

Recent cold temperatures may have injured plants in home landscapes, warns Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist with MU Extension.

What measures can individuals take now or later to help these injured plants?

“First of all, don’t do anything at present. Wait until spring arrives and plants begin to grow. This is the best time to assess overall cold injury to plants,” said Byers.

Then during the spring, prune only dead and severely damaged wood. Do not prune live wood. The larger the leaf surface area of the plant, the better it can manufacture food and grow new tissues. If fruit plants have injured flower buds, prune less than normal to compensate.

Crepe myrtle is a chronic victim of winter kill, but can recover quickly. It is important to feed and water recovering plants.

“Be sure to also water properly, ” adds Byers. “Make sure the plant is not further damaged by drought. Pay special attention to evergreens and plants situated under eaves. Water properly throughout the spring, summer and fall.”

Fertilization is recommended if the soil lacks adequate amounts of basic plant nutrients.

On severely damaged fruit plants, remove as much of the developing fruit as possible to allow it to overcome the winter injury rather than produce fruit.

“The best thing you can do for your injured tree or shrub is to avoid further stress during the coming season by giving it special attention and care,” said Byers.

For more information call University of Missouri Extension in Springfield at 417-881-8909 or go online to

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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