Don't rush to prune outdoor plants damaged by frigid winter

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - This frigid winter weather may have left many of your outdoor plants looking rather pitiful. The experts warn, be patient. The damage may not be as bad as you think.

"Beautiful pink, purple blooms in the springtime, and we can see here, this one's starting to bloom out," said MSU horticulturist, Dr. Gary Bachman, as he examined a flowering magnolia.

"Even though we've had all this really cold weather, this plant has adapted to survive this."

The magnolia may hold the promise of blooms about to burst, but many other plants look downright wilted or brown.

"Be patient. Let the plants start growing out in the spring, and let's see what survived. Because if we start pruning right now, we're going to open the plants back up and possibly cause more harm than just having them look bad in the landscape right now."

Bachman says this unusual winter may take its toll on palms and other tropical plants, but native species should be okay.

"It still has some leaves on it," he said, while examining another plant, "But when we get the real cold temperatures, a plant like this will drop all its leaves. It's not a sign that it's dead."

"Our more native plants, our more zone appropriate plants, we're going to see some winter damage, but I don't think we're going to lose a lot of plants."

He says most of our plants can handle the occasional dip below freezing, but extended periods of hard freeze can pose problems.

"It's really when we get into that 27, 26 and below where actually the contents of the plant cells start to freeze. What happens is the cells burst and they die."

Again, he cautions, be patient. It's likely your pitiful looking plants will be fine with the warm-up of Spring.

"This plant is going to come out of this and it's going to flower and it's going to leaf out and be fine this Spring," he said, while checking out another plant, loaded with buds.

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