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How Does Your Landscape Look After the Freeze?

Recently we had an April snowstorm on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I was mowing the yard on Saturday! Welcome to Indiana! By now, you have probably had a chance to survey your landscape after the April 20-21 snowstorm and freeze. With that behind us, now is time to assess the damage that may have been left behind.

Kyle Daniel, Purdue nursery & landscape outreach specialist, recently penned an article about this topic in the Purdue Landscape Report.

He said that the hard freeze had many homeowners concerned about their perennial and annual plants in their landscape.  “For the vast majority of perennial plants, there aren’t many issues long-term of concern,” he said. “Some foliage and flowers have significant damage, but the plants will recover, and possibly release new vegetative buds in severe cases.”

“The plants that suffered the most damage, and in some cases death, are the annuals planted by impatient landscapers and gardeners,” he said. “Planting annuals prior to the frost-free date (May 10th in central Indiana) will more than likely cause a replant to occur.”

Daniel said there may be a significant impact on fruit production. Tree fruits and small fruits may be affected.

Daniel said that plants that have been stressed due to cold temperatures should be closely monitored over the growing season. “Don’t prune ‘dead’ portions until you allow more buds to break,” he said. “Chances are the early foliage was dropped and new leaves will soon emerge.” He encouraged homeowners to provide adequate moisture to assist in recovery, but warned that too much water can be just as detrimental as too little water.

Following a late freeze, I have sometimes observed landscape plants with damage on the first leaves that emerge from trees and shrubs. Sometimes, a portion of the leaf is dead, or parts of the leaf, while in the bud, were affected by freezing temperatures. Later, when those leaves are fully grown, they may appear to have been either eaten by an insect, affected by an early-season disease, or drifted upon by a pesticide. In reality, it was the freeze that caused the damage.

The bottom line is that most perennial plants will recover, but fruit production will take a hit this year. When observing woody trees and shrubs, leaves produced after the earliest leaves should appear more normal. If you planted annuals early, it is likely you’ll have to purchase replacement plants.

Find Daniel’s original article at

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