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John Fulton

John Fulton
Former County Extension Director

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In The Backyard

Horticulture columns and tips done on a timely basis
Freeze damage on boxwood

Freeze Damage

Posted by John Fulton -

I mentioned freeze damage in the column last week. Now that some time has passed, it is somewhat easier to assess damage – and take corrective action. Damage may still appear worse than it is today, but it won’t improve any. The reason I say it may get worse is the simple fact that brown leaves on broadleaf evergreens are still attached to stems that have some life in them. If damage was severe enough, the stems will also continue to die back a little further.

Broadleaf evergreens (including boxwood, azalea, rhododendron, holly, and yew) probably took the last cold snap the worst. The statement of fact is simple: leaves that have turned brown will not turn back green. There may be live buds yet on some of those stems with some life in them (where the layer under the outside is still green and pliable). In some cases there isn’t any hope for some of the branch tips, or even for some of the branches.

If there is still green under the dead area, you could always prune or shear just under the dead area. This would get rid of the dead material for appearances sake, and also help spur new growth. An added benefit would be thickening the remaining shrub or tree. Entirely dead branches should be removed. After removing these, and giving the haircut, you can assess what is left. Then you can determine if you want to keep that – or start over. Pruning this early in the season may lead to some “rank” growth. This could be pruned again at the proper time in late June.

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