Houston Chronicle

Outdoor tips

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1. Leave damaged plants in the ground to give them a chance to bounce back. Not only is it too early to tell what’s merely withered versus what’s actually dead, that plant material can protect what’s in the ground if we have another frost or freeze.

2. Many plants in our yards are chosen for Gulf Coast gardening, which means they’re suitable for USDA Hardiness Zones 8 and 9. Those plants can withstand outdoor temperatur­es dipping to 25 to 30 degrees. Our recent weather was colder than that, many plants will die. Give them time, though, before ripping out plants you think won’t make it. Prune any foliage that looks mushy; it could spread fungus.

3. Fruit trees that have been in your yard for two to three years should be able to withstand last week’s weather better than newer trees, though the snow and cold could drasticall­y reduce the 2021 fruit crop.

4. When assessing damage to your trees, scratch the bark on a limb. If it’s brown, it’s dead. If it’s green it’s alive. Prune the limbs back to about a half-inch above the dead part.

5. Palms are often hardy, so if it still has green in the crown it could survive. You could prune back damaged fronds and see what happens or spray with a copper-based fungicide and repeat again in 10 days.

6. When plants start showing new growth, that’s when you need to fertilize. Don’t fertilize right now because they’re not ready.

7. When you are ready to relandscap­e, Houston Garden Centers offers these tips: Decide whether your garden will be formal or natural, and consider whether you want it to blend with your house or create drama. Map out the areas of your yard to be landscaped and note which areas are in the sun or shade before buying plants.

Sources: Stedman Douglas, Prairie View A&M University agricultur­e extension agent; Larry Stein, Texas A&M University professor and extension horticultu­rist; Marta Lafaver, Buchanan’s Native Plants; Houstongar­dencenters.com

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