The onset of Winter 2022 delivered a holiday surprise few gardeners embrace – a quick drop in temperatures after a slow, mild fall.
A lot of the damage to plants is showing itself now as we see winter kill on buds of leaves, flowers and branches. One way to see if a branch is alive is to scrape a bit of the bark away. If it’s green underneath, chances are good the plant survived.
Other signs a plant is dead or alive
Here’s more to look for, from Kyle Daniel, nursery and landscape outreach specialist at Purdue Extension.
- As bud break begins, marginally cold hardy plants may have dead branches.
- If root damage has occurred, bud break may occur normally, but defoliation will follow due to a reduction in the ability to uptake water.
- If possible, wait to prune until after bud break so that dead branches can be removed.
- According to the National Phenology Network (https://www.usanpn.org/usa-national-phenology-network), spring is about three weeks early in the Southeast. If trends continue, bud break and flowering will be very early in the Midwest. This will increase the chances of late frost/freeze damage to plants. As of publication (mid-March), magnolias are in bloom in the southern half of Indiana. Expected low temperatures will most likely freeze the blooms.
- Plants that have experienced damage from the winter will need to be watched carefully throughout this growing season to prevent other stresses, including drought.
More about plants dead or alive and winter damage
Here’s more info from Kyle Daniel about cold injury during a mild winter.
Photo above courtesy Purdue Extension Forestry & Natural Resources