Spring is in the air, and it is hard to believe that we were in a winter storm just one month ago! I have been preaching patience this spring as our plants recover from the freeze, but I think we are safe to get to work in the landscape now.
Many of our plants seem to be recovering from the freeze as temperatures warm up with some exceptions. Viburnum, wax myrtle, and pittosporum did not fair very well in many landscapes around Williamson County and continue to droop with brown leaves. You might do one final scratch test on the bark to see if you can find living tissue, then pull out dead shrubs. Sago palm is another plant that did not survive. Check the growth point in the center to see if you can find living tissue; perhaps the microclimate of your lawn helped protect your sago palm.
As you begin to remove dead plants and plan for replacements, I have a few tips that might help in your plant selection. If you are anything like me, spring fever takes over when I am at the plant store, and I need either a detailed list or a strong-willed friend who ensures I do not buy too many plants! Hopefully, these tips will help you make a plan before you start shopping.
Consider the USDA cold-hardiness zone of the plant. Williamson County is in Zone 8b, which means the average annual minimum temperature is 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. As we just experienced, it can get colder, but that gives us a good idea of where to start. You might not want to purchase plants that are labeled for Zone 9 or higher because they will be damaged by cold weather at some point.
Try to choose plants that are native or adapted to our area. Native or adapted plants are always a good idea because they can usually handle our high and low temperature swings, have fewer pest problems, and are accustomed to our average rainfall amounts. You can find a copy of the Grow Green: Native and Adapted Plant Guide for Central Texas online or at local nurseries.
Pay attention to the spacing recommendations for plants. Be sure you pick the right plant for the height and width of the space you have available. A plant that outgrows your space will cause future headaches as you try to prune it back to size, whether it’s a tree underneath a powerline or a crape myrtle under your eaves.
The Williamson County Master Gardeners are hosting their annual Plant Sale Fund Raiser at the end of the month. The sale opens online on March 23-26, and plant pick-up is scheduled for Friday, April 2, at the Georgetown Community Center. This plant sale helps fund our educational events and demonstration garden throughout the year, so be sure to get your order in to support the Master Gardeners. You can find more information on our website at https://williamson.agrilife.org/.
For more information about freeze damage or other lawn and garden topics, contact Kate Whitney, Horticulture Extension Agent, at the Williamson County AgriLife Extension Office at 512-943-3300.