We had record setting cold weather that dropped 60 degrees in 12 hours. Plants weren’t fully hardened off and -30F wind chills meant fast desiccation. Plants didn’t get time to draw down moisture into the roots and water left in the leaves expanded/ crystallized and burst cells. This was not a plant hardiness issue.
What plants were affected?
The hardest hit were evergreens and semievergreens with leaves instead of needles; plants like cherry laurel, holly, southern magnolia, boxwoods, Roses, azaleas and rhododendrons. These are now brown or defoliating.
What can we do now?
There is nothing we can do for the plants during winter. Do not cut back, do not feed, do not pull them out. We won’t know what the official damage is until warmer weather starts to come. It can take longer than we think for a plant to re-flush, so don’t be alarmed if it takes until June to show any signs of new life.
What can be done in late Spring/Summer?
We don’t know exactly what can be done but we expect that most plants are still alive and will put out new leaves this spring. There is a good chance we will cut back and fertilize but only after we know what parts are dead. It’s always better to cut back as opposed to replanting to save on watering and transplant shock.