Last Night's Hard Freeze - Central Atlantic region

springwood_gardens(6B Pittsburgh)March 27, 2012

Ouch...Looks like last night was a disaster for the hydrangeas and lots of other plants. Blankets and other coverings did NOTHING. I worked the night shift and when I got home, every leaf on everything was frozen solid right down to the ground!

This was reported to have been a near certainty from OH through PA, MD, DE, NJ, and parts of NY.

I've only owned my own property for a handful of years and don't recall the plants ever having gotten hit that hard.

My dumb question is: If all the leaves on everything are now darker green and completely limp, is the growth done for or does it need to be completely shriveled up to a crisp to be considered so?

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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Oh my lord. So sorry to hear that. Reminds me of a time when I lived in Atlanta and about a quarter of the trees were lost when temps suddenly dipped hard.

Frost damage is different on every plant out there and may not be obvious until many weeks or months later. It is common for damaged new growth looks mushy and wet; this look can then turn to a scorched look, a bleached look or even a brown look. It is more hard to tell on old growth.

Regardless what happens, this problem usually does not kill hydrangeas. You may end up with ugly leaves for a while but new growth should start in several weeks! Keep them mulched with 3-4" of mulch up to the drip line and maintain the soil evenly moist. Do not add fertilizer while the plant recovers.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 8:03PM
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Yes, Atlanta had an "Easter freeze" several years ago (and other places did too). Plants that are hardy anyway will eventually resprout new leaves from dormant buds. They may be ugly for a little while, but they will come back.

Don't cut anything back until you see new growth.

I'm sorry!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 9:16AM
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mistascott(7A VA)

Good to hear. I was worried that I may not get blooms this year. I didn't think such a light frost would cause damage but it did. Here is a pic of my damage from 31 degrees for about 3 hours:

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 9:50AM
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Unfortunately, my hydrangeas look even worse. The temperature fell to 27 degress in Spencerville, MD. The smaller leaves were damaged the most. I was watching the temperature all morning and it just going down, even after daylight began. Very sad.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 10:18AM
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I feel a little lucky (not really). Covered mine with burlap but here in NE Ohio it went down to 26. I obviously had some damage but not as bad as I was expecting. Similar to the pic above.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 9:19PM
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My hydrangea got really zapped here in ct after leafing so early due to the warm weather- about 20 plants in all. Lots of Nikkos, and 8 endless summers. The leaves have turned brown already. I know the plants will survive, and I've probably lost most if not all the blooms, but can anyone tell me if I should cut back, to where, and when? TIA

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 2:54PM
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springwood_gardens(6B Pittsburgh)

Yes, that is a good question. More specifically, if the stems coming out of each bud were killed part way but not the whole way down to the bud itself, would the stem still grow back to form a bloom?

I'm saying this because it looks like for most people (myself included), that there seemed to have been no actual bud kill, just some growth that had already come from the buds.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 6:26PM
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pippi21(Z7 Silver Spring, Md.)

Spencerville, Md. gardener..mine got hit hard too..Do you think we should cover up tonight too? I planted creeping phlox and calif. poppies yesterday and they look ok today. I had wanted to try to plant some of the others out that need to come out of the WS milk jugs. I have lots of larger nursery pots that I can use to cover the newly planted ones up overnight.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 6:49PM
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