Landscaping & Yard CareOrnamental PlantsPlant Care Instructions

Dealing with Late Season Frost Damage

It finally happened. A bunch of plants in my yard that had started blooming received heavy frost damage.

My hydrangeas froze weeks ago. Unseasonably warm weather in February set us up for disaster, but I was hoping, hoping, hoping that we would dodge that bullet. We had several freezes in the past few weeks and most things seemed to handle it pretty well. So to be perfectly candid, I was truly caught off guard. There is serious damage to many of my Japanese maples.

What Should Have Been Done

I should have gotten out there early in morning as the sun was coming up and washed the frost off the leaves. That helps. Would it have prevented the damage? I don’t know. The frost was heavy and hung on even after the sun came up.

What Can Be Done Now

Nothing. Mother Nature created this situation and only Mother Nature can undo it. The best thing that you can do after a late season frost is just wait and see what the plants do next.

Please don’t try fertilizing them or treating them with any magic potion. Just wait. It’s going to take time. Many of the leaves are damaged beyond hope, but for the most part that’s just cosmetic.

You just need to hope that the tissue below the bark is not damaged. In most cases the plants will make new leaves and all will be well, but it’s going to take many weeks for that to happen.

The worst case scenario is that some tissue damage did occur but hopefully not throughout the plant. Chances are most things will recover. It’s like you or I being involved in a serious car accident. We usually pull through given enough time to heal.

Mike McGroarty is the owner of McGroarty Enterprises and the author of several books. You can visit his website at  and read his blog at

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