Over the last few weeks, many of our customers have called to say that their shrubs are dead and brown when they should be leafing out and budding… but are they really dead? Or just playing possum?
The winter of 2013/14 was one of the most severe the Midwest has seen in a while; extended, colder than average temperatures caused the frost line to penetrate far deeper into the ground than usual, causing damage to plants and water pipes alike. Likewise, dry, cold winds killed off above ground stems and buds on several ornamental shrubs and trees.
Right now, we’re getting a lot of calls concerning many of the most common shrubs around the home; Hydrangeas, Crape Myrtles, and Roses in particular. Don’t worry! These three were affected by the winter weather, causing above ground portions to die-back. If you have any of these plants in the landscape and are concerned they might be dead, take some time to examine them at the base for signs of new growth. If new growth such as leaf or flower buds are evident, expect the plants to make a full come back. Odds are, they won’t reach the same height and width you’ve experienced in recent years this summer, but they should produce blooms this year. Provided we experience a more moderate winter in 2014, you can expect them to be back to their usual exuberance next year!
However, if the shrub (or any plant) shows no sign of life by late May or early June, it’s a safe guess that the shrub is dead and will need to be replaced. Check to see if the shrub still has green heartwood in its limbs to be sure.