Let's talk freeze-recovery.

First of all, I just looked at a long-range weather forecast I trust, and there's no hint of freezing temperatures for the next two weeks. So I think we can get busy with freeze-recovery practices. That doesn't mean I can guarantee no more Arctic blasts or frosts between now and April 1, but this is about as good as it gets.

So, here are some simple rules to follow for the next few weeks.

  1. If it's crispy and brown, cut it back to green wood. Hibiscus are perfect examples.
  2. If you cut back a brown-and-crispy plant to the ground and see no sign of green, but the root system seems to be firmly locked in, consider leaving it alone and seeing what comes back. If the root system moves around easily — like a car's stick-shift — it's dead. You can remove the whole thing.
  3. If it's mushy, gushy or gooey, get rid of it! Cut it out, remove it - do whatever it takes to get the nasty stuff out of there.
  4. If a palm frond (queen palms are good examples) is drooping over, cut it out or back. If a palm frond is standing up, leave it alone. Remember the January 2010 freeze? We had to wait months before we knew if they were coming back or not.
  5. On palms small enough that you have access to the fronds (a dwarf pygmy date palm is a perfect example), pull on the ones in the interior to see if they stay in. If they easily slide out, the plant is dead. If they hold tight, the plant may still be alive, but you will have to wait and see.
  6. If you feel confident of no more hard freezes between now and Feb. 15, it's time to scalp the yard. Essentially, you'll try to vacuum up dead grass so live roots are open to the air, sunshine, water and fertilizer. You'll find more info HERE.
  7. If you think your St. Augustine lawn has a lot of thatch build-up, don't mechanically de-thatch - scalp instead. There are products that will help break down the thatch - basically anything containing humus or humates.

If these seven rules don't seem to apply to your situation, call the GardenLine broadcast on NewsRadio 740 KTRH this weekend. If you have samples you'd like me to look at, our first GardenLine appearance of 2014 is at the Sugar Land Home and Garden Show Sat., Jan. 25, at the Stafford Centre. Listen to GardenLine this weekend for a chance to win a pair of tickets.