Snow Damage and Flax

violet_sky(z8 Portland OR)January 21, 2009

My poor garden was left unprotected from the snow last month. We'd planned a three week trip back to the east coast over the holidays. We left on Dec. 13 - it started snowing on the 14th and didn't let up for two weeks! No one expected this kind of weather. Normally we don't get a lot of snow as we're at a very low elevation (200 ft) so even if we get a dusting the plants are fine. I did a good job with my fall clean up and mulched really well so most of the plants are okay.

However my poor New Zealand Flax are a brown flattened mess! I'm so heart sick about this as they are huge focal points in my garden. What can I do to help them come back to life? They used to be about 6' tall and now they're just slumped over a few inches off the ground. Should I wait till spring and cut back the broken leaves? Will they come back? Should I dig them up and replace them (I'd *really* rather not do this if I can help it.) Will they come back on their own? Halp!

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gardengal48

Depending on the variety and your soil conditions, they could come back. The mountain flax, Phormium cookianum, and the hybrids that have a lot of this parentage tend to be pretty darn cold hardy as long as they are provided with very good drainage.

I'd wait until a bit later in the season, then gently tug on a few of the interior fronds. If they come away easily, you've probably lost the plant and will need to dig and remove. If they offer good resistance, chances are good the roots are sound and the plant will recover. Cut back any damaged fronds then or you can cut the whole thing back to about 4-6". It won't look very good for a couple of seasons but it should come back OK.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 10:54AM
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violet_sky(z8 Portland OR)

Thanks for responding. I've got two different varieties all planted in areas with good drainage. I've got a hardier variety planted in the hell strip and they came out with some frond damage but are still very much upright. The more delicate flax I planted next to the house and partially under an eve, it gets a lot more protection but apparently not enough. Those are the one's that look much the worse for wear! It makes me sad because they *just* reached maturity. I've waited four years for them to get that big!

I think they'll be okay (maybe) I'll have to go out and tug at them a little bit and clip all their dead leaves off. I hope they can recover... guess I'll have to wait another three or four years for them to get that big again, eh? ::sad::

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 11:19PM
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