Plant Care following Freeze Damage

Home Grown  by Keith Reed
We’ve been getting quite a few calls in the Payne County Extension office concerning damage by the recent freezes. If the forecast holds true, it looks like have at least another week with potential nighttime temperatures below freezing.

While this freezing weather seems “late”, we are still within normal period for this part of the state to drop below freezing. This just seems late because we’ve had so many early springs the last several years. It’s still a good idea to keep April 15th as our average frost-free date. It is also a good idea to have a “what if” plan in place for another couple weeks if you put frost sensitive plants in the ground at this time. A plan could be nothing more than a sheet to individual covers for plants, such as old milk jugs, as we can have freezing weather up into the first week of May.

If you have large plants that have already bloomed or leafed out and then were burned back by the latest freeze, do not assume they are dead. Give these plants a week or two, and they should start to recover. A good way to verify their condition is to gently scrape of the bark near the tips of the branches; if you see green, the plants should be fine.

Garden seedlings may be a different story. Very small plants often don’t have the recuperative ability that larger plants do. If seedling have browned off, they are likely dead, so it make plans to replant as soon as possible.

We also need to mention the lack of rainfall as an increasing concern. Hot windy days can really take a toll on plants, especially when they are already weakened by the conditions just talked about. Until we see significant rainfall, keep an eye on soil moisture levels.

For more information on this or any other horticultural topic, you can contact Keith Reed, the Horticulturist in the Payne County Extension office. Keith can be reached via email at
keith.reed@okstate.edu, phone at 405-747-8320, or in person at the Payne County Extension office, located at 315 W. 6th in Stillwater.

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