Renew & Regrow
As previously discussed in the January 12th edition of Kent’s Korner, “Frost Bitten”, we urged our residents to resist the temptation of immediately cutting back the damaged foliage of many of our most reliable tropical plants. Now that we are past the most severe threat of cold, you should plan to remove the damaged plant material to encourage new growth. Avoid cutting into live tissue or the crown of these plants and simply remove the obviously damaged foliage. With normal weather patterns, many of these plants will resume growth and produce new shoots by early to mid-March.
In addition to this normal garden remediation work, take notice of shrubs such as viburnum, wax myrtle, and ligustrum that have been planted as privacy screens or foundation plantings and may have outgrown their usefulness. Oftentimes, these plants overtake the house or become so top heavy that they shade out their own lower canopies resulting in a shrub that is sparse and has a mushroom-like appearance. When these shrubs reach this point, it is time to take an aggressive stance and perform rejuvenation pruning to control this unruly growth habit. Mid to late February is the best time of the year to perform this work, before these plants flush out with new spring growth. While this may appear like a radical approach, it is a very beneficial process for many older plants. Aggressively cut back the old wood to correct the plants architecture, remove crossing branches, and diseased or damaged shoots. The resulting exposure to light produces healthy new growth that can be trained back to encourage a dense and vigorous plant. Clean old mulch, pine straw, and/or leaves away from the crown of the plant, maintain adequate soil moisture, and apply a balanced slow release fertilizer on these shrubs to enjoy many more years of success from your landscape.