Effects of a Late Freeze on Blooming Shrubs & Trees You Might Not KnowApril 4, 2017
A Warm Winter cuts both ways. While this past winter was good on our energy bills, it was a bit confusing to dormant trees and shrubs. Washington D.C. saw the earliest bloom ever of its famous cherry blossom trees. It was 10 days ahead of the earliest peak bloom in recorded history: March 15, 1990.
Now that the warm mild winter is behind us, excitement is in the air for the arriving spring season. Mild winters often trick Cherry trees, bulbs and other plants to bloom early only to be quickly knocked down by March snows and/or ice storms. This can cause damage to many prized evergreens.
The good news is that the brief late freeze we experienced at the opening of spring this year is not likely to kill or cause long-term damage to most of your shrubs and trees, unless they are a variety already prone to freeze damage.
Most plants will bounce back and recover while, unfortunately, some may need removed and replaced. While a sudden brief late freeze is not likely to kill or cause long-term damage to your shrubs and trees, the early leaves and blossoms may suffer some real damage.
How much damage your flowering tree or shrub sustains will depend on how far along they were in the process of coming out of dormancy. Those with small leaf buds that had just begun to unfurl should still be able to recover. As the weather turns warms again, your tree or shrub will put out another flush of leaves.
Foliar buds, which are more resistant to late freezes than flowering buds, could have some browning or misshapen leaves. Once the plant has fully bloomed, the freeze damage may not even be visible.
The sad truth is that if your flowering buds had begun to form and break dormancy, you may have to wait until next year to admire their beauty. Once the buds for the year have formed on some variety of plants, such as hydrangeas that form flowering buds on old wood, a hard freeze can seriously reduce or eliminate the flowers for the year. The bigger disappointment just might be for fruiting trees which will not give fruit without blossoms.
Another thing to be aware of is that those pesky weeds in your beds and lawns did not die off due to above average temperatures which will create a tough year for dealing with broadleaf weeds.
The Silver-Lining is that mother nature always has a way of taking us by surprise every year with her beauty in Spring with bursts of blooms and vibrant colors as the landscape goes through an awakening after old man winter becomes a distant memory. Enjoy every moment of her wonder!
DiSabatino Landscaping is Delaware’s #1 Tree and Shrub Care Specialist. We employee the latest arboricultural techniques for trimming, pruning and fertilizing trees. Our ISA certified arborist can help identify your risk by readily identifying tree and shrub diseases, infestations or fungus that can be harmful and costly to your landscaping. Give us a call today! 302-764-0480