Wow! If you are reading this, congratulations! You survived! All joking aside, we offer our heart felt condolences to those Texans that lost loved ones during the unprecedented winter storm.

Never, in recorded history, have we seen this duration of freezing temperatures. We endured +/- 168 hours under 32 degrees here at the nursery and Monday night’s low hit 4 degrees Fahrenheit.  This will have effects on our natural environment for some time to come.

Thursday’s ice storm may have been a blessing and a curse. In theory, the ice covering our plants would have insulated the plant tissues preventing exposure to temperatures lower than 32 degrees. The downside is that some plants, especially Live Oaks, broke due to the extra weight.

Over the next few days, weeks, and months, we will be assessing our losses in our gardens and landscapes. Make no mistake, some plants will be lost, others will be severely damaged and some (we are hoping many) will have weathered the storm simply fine. Below you will find our best advice for many of the issues we will be facing in the near future.

Trees-

The affects of ice buildup on our local trees could be seen almost immediately. Evergreens broke due to extra ice buildup while our deciduous trees fared well.

Shade trees: We recommend hiring Texas Certified Arborists to assess damages and repair wounds. All trees will heal faster if wounds are cut clean with sharp tools. We only recommend covering wounds of Red Oaks and Live Oaks to exclude oak wilt beetles. Other species of trees heal well with clean cuts.

Ice accumulations bent and broke trees throughout Texas.
Ice accumulations bent and broke trees throughout Texas.

Avoid applications of weed-n-feed fertilizers any where near trees or areas that ground water may carry these tree-damaging chemicals! The last thing your winter-stress trees need is a good dose of damaging herbicide. Corn Gluten is an acceptable weed control under your tree.

Apply MicroLife 6-2-4 under the canopy of your trees to provide extra nutrition this spring.

Fruit trees: At this time, we are recommending no action be taken on fruit trees outside of regular or corrective pruning and dormant oil sprays. Here at the nursery, we are already seeing damages to: Loquats, Pineapple Guavas, Figs and Olives. It is a waiting game to see if they survive. They have done well for us down to 8 degrees in the past.

Palms: OUCH! Again, it is going to be a waiting game for some species. For the first time in our lives, we have seen winter damage to every palm here at the nursery.  Mature (brown and flopped over) fronds can be removed but do not remove any new fronds emerging from the center of the trunk.

Test the health of your tree by scratching away a portion of the bark to find signs of life. Green is good! Brown is Bad.
Test the health of your tree by scratching away a portion of the bark to find signs of life. Green is good! Brown is Bad.

Lawn- Finger crossed! We are already noticing signs of severely damaged St. Augustine grass. Industry experts are recommending a 1-2-3 punch of MicroLife products to help rejuvenate lawns in Texas. 1.) Apply MicroLife Ocean Harvest* liquid now. 2.) Apply 6-2-4 Multipurpose Biological Fertilizer* now. 3.) Reapply the Ocean Harvest liquid in two weeks throughout spring. Homeowners concerned about weed seed germination can apply Corn Gluten weed preventer at this time.

*available at our store now.

Cold damaged shrubs can be tricky to diagnose right away. Give them some time!
Cold damaged shrubs can be tricky to diagnose right away. Give them some time!

Shrubs & Perennials- “Hurry up and wait” say the expert at Texas A&M. Over the next few weeks, we will be watching our shrubs and perennials in the landscape. Signs of life will return for many of our trusted ornamentals. The plan is to remove dead or damaged plant material once we can see what parts are still alive. The 1-2-3 Punch described in the above lawn section will certainly help rejuvenate shrubs and perennials as well. We know there will be some losses. So if you are itching to replant, now is a good time to get started.

Garden- generally, this time of year, we are switching over from cool-season crops to warm-season crops. Take a look at our February To-Do List here for more recommendations.  Our March list can be found here.

Water Gardens- Our water gardens, ponds streams and waterfalls should have fared pretty well in the storm. No doubt, there will be a plant here or there that did not make it and we are getting reports of very little fish loss. If you are concerned, give us a call, or stop by. We are testing water samples at this time. Check out the March To-Do List for specific tasks to take care of in the coming weeks.

Fountains- Hopefully you caught our previous posts or emails and you were prepared for the freeing temperature! We can reassemble and refill our fountains now. Make sure all the ice has melted before plugging in your pump. If you are seeing damages, please give us a call and we can assist you.

Feel free to call us with questions at 512-260-5050 or email photos to info@hillcountrywatergardens.com

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