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Q&A from the Plant Clinic

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Master Gardener volunteers of Haywood County logo image

Here you will find the latest on what Master Gardener℠ volunteers in Haywood County are seeing in the Plant Clinic so that you can be on the lookout for potential problems in your lawn or garden before they start!

Question: The recent deep freeze has killed emerging leaves on many of my flowering shrubs, especially on roses and hydrangeas. Should I cut them back and just forget about blooms this year?

Answer: Be patient! While the leaves that emerged during the warm days of late February and early March may be dead, the leaf buds themselves might be quite healthy. Last spring we had a heavy frost in mid-April. My mophead hydrangeas all appeared to be dead, but a closer inspection showed quite healthy leaf buds forming under the dead foliage.

So before you prune anything wait a few weeks, then take a close look underneath some of the dead foliage. If you see new green growth, don’t touch the plant until after the last frost (traditionally Mother’s Day here), then pull off any dead leaves that remain. If the leaf buds are still healthy, there’s a good chance that the plant will flower normally this summer.

Another reason to be patient: plants like mophead hydrangeas, rhododendrons and forsythia bloom from flower buds formed the previous year (i.e., on old wood). If you cut back the plant severely now you’ll remove all those potential blooms.

Have a home gardening question? We want to hear from you

Email with a description of any home gardening problem. Or call (828) 456-3575 and describe the issue to the receptionist. Either way, a Master Gardener℠ volunteer in Haywood County will get back to you within a couple of days with research-based information. ©2021 NC State University.

Written by: Jim Janke, Master Gardener℠ Volunteer