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Following are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. Email for answers to any additional questions you might have. All information will be updated on Cheekwood’s website at

Frequently Asked Questions:

What should I do now?
The best advice for the short term is to do nothing. Give the plants another week to recover. Pruning or removing leaves or branches may result in more long-term injury than just living with the current effects. This time period should give the plant time to develop secondary buds that will grow and result in a re-leafing of the plant.

Will plants recover faster by watering?
Extra water will not help the tissue damaged by the cold. However, if temperatures warm and rain fall is limited, water plants deeply twice weekly to reduce drought stress.

Should freeze damaged plants be fertilized?
Do not fertilize freeze damaged trees. Trees should be fertilized near the end of next winter. It should be okay to fertilize smaller ornamental plants as they begin to re-grow. Use a slow release, balanced fertilizer and follow recommended applications rates or use a half rate.

Many of my plants have brown, damaged leaves. Should I cut away this damaged foliage?
Some plants will naturally shed damaged leaves and replace them with new foliage. Some may have damage to the stems and will require more significant pruning. Resist the urge to trim too soon, as it is nearly impossible to determine the extent of the damage until the plants begin to recover. Wait a few weeks or more before making any decisions.

How can I tell if my Crepe Myrtle or Japanese Maple is damaged?
Look for bark that is split and peeling away from the stems. On larger stems, damage might only appear as cracks in the bark. It is also possible to use your fingernail or small knife to scrape away the surface of the bark to reveal living green tissue. Green tissue indicates the stems did not suffer freeze damage and will be able to re-grow foliage.

My Boxwood has turned white! What should I do?
Many of the boxwoods at Cheekwood have also turned white. Fortunately, only the young tender leaves have been damaged. We will not do anything to these plants until we see whether they will naturally shed the damaged leaves.

Can I trim the damaged foliage off my Hosta, Liriope, or ornamental grasses?
Yes, remove only the damaged foliage on Hosta and cut ornamental grasses and Liriope as you would in the late winter. Plants might not be as vigorous this year but should recover with time. This method should be applied to other herbaceous perennials.

I have a question about my two red knockout roses and also my red Europeana rose bush.  All of them are floribundas that had some nice growth from the warm spring weather.  Now the leaves are all shriveled and brown – most of the new growth is dead.  I can see the canes are still green underneath, though, so I have not lost hope. Any tips on the best way to deal with the dead stuff?
They should be fine with just a little time. They should begin to grow new shoots from the undamaged canes. As they do, remove the damaged stems to just above where the new growth is emerging. They should flower this summer on the new growth.

What should I do about my azaleas that were damaged by the freeze? The leaves are all brown and dry. Can they be salvaged?
It is still hard to determine how much damage many plants have sustained. It will be difficult to tell until they begin to produce new shoots. We are encouraging everyone to be patient and give plants a little time to recover. I believe most woody plants such as azaleas will be fine and should naturally shed the damaged leaves and produce new leaves. Once they begin to produce new shoots, you will be able to tell how much, if any, of the stem was damaged. Cut the dead away just above where the new foliage is emerging.

Our monkey grass is brown.  Will that return or is it gone for the season?
Go ahead and cut the damaged foliage back to the ground as you would in the fall. New growth should follow, but will probably be a little sparse this year.

I have some yellow discolored growth (some completely dead, some almost variegated looking) on the Stella d’Oro daylilies – should I cut this back? Also my Tiger lily shoots froze and died completely. Will they come back? I was planning on dividing and moving them later this year – should I wait until next year?
You can remove the damaged growth on the Daylilies; just trim away the dead and damaged leaves. Try to leave as much healthy foliage as possible. They should be fine, although they might have sparse foliage and fewer flowers this year.

I am going to assume the Tiger lilies you are referring to are a bulb type lily. In that case, I cannot really say what will happen to them. They were frozen to the ground at a critical time of their growth and that type lily only has one stem per bulb and does not branch. The bulbs should be alive, they would have been protected underground from the cold temperatures. If they do produce new stems, I would not move them this year. Give them at least a season to rebuild their food stores after suffering the stress of recovering from the freeze.

If I do have bark that has peeled off the stem should I go ahead and cut those branches down to the ground? And, if the peeling is only part of the way down the branch should I only trim down to where the bark has split?
I would not recommend trimming Crepe Myrtles until you begin to see new growth. Then you will be able to see exactly where to trim. The cracked stems with peeling bark are an indication of damage. However, the damage may extend into parts of the tree that does not have cracks and therefore appears undamaged. If you trim them now, you might be trimming them again in a few weeks. Many large Crepe Myrtles appear to have less damage than small ones, but variety and location have also influenced the amount of damage.

All of the leaves on my tulip tree have turned brown. I see no signs of life. Not sure of the age but it's probably 20 feet tall and appears to have been there at least 20 years. Any ideas?
I have just started seeing buds swelling on the Tulip trees. They are starting spring all over again. It will be several weeks before there is any noticeable growth, but they should be fine.

I have a small “zero lot line” garden with columbine, hostas and hydrangas. My condo faces due west. During the Easter freeze the only thing that was damaged was my hydrangas. The leaves wilted from the freeze and now they are dried. Will my three hydrangas bloom this year? What do I need to do to take care of them?
Most Hydrangeas are looking a little sad right now. It is difficult to say if they will flower this year. It depends on the type you have. If it is a large leaf type that blooms on new wood (macrophylla) my guess is that they will not flower this year. They will recover and should bloom next year. If it is an Oak Leaf Hydrangea, it might be okay. I have seen a few flower buds on some here. At this time, be patient and give the plant time to recover. The dead leaves should fall off naturally. Make sure that in the absence of rainfall they get a good deep watering at least twice a week.

What about Red Bud trees 3 to 5 years old. They look dead!
I went out yesterday to look at the Redbuds in our gardens and don’t see many signs of life yet. I have noticed a few starting to grow new foliage. Just be patient and give them time to recover. There might be some tip dieback that will need to be pruned away, but until they begin to grow new leaves it is difficult to know. Make sure you give them a good deep watering twice a week in absence of rainfall.

I have two Japanese red maples on each end of house front.  Burn't as everything else.  They were green leaved as everything else prior dogwood winter.  Anything I can do?  Also,as far as the nut/mast crop this year,ie.,acorns,walnuts etc., they are pitiful looking also.  Would appreciate any ensight or thoughts.
We are seeing some tip damage on Japanese Maples but it depends on the variety and location of the plant. I would wait until they begin to grow new leaves to start trimming away the dead. Most important right now is to make sure the plants are getting a good deep watering twice a week in absence of significant rainfall. We are also concerned about the mast/nut crop this year. It looks like many oaks will not produce acorns. It also looks like walnuts and pecans were damaged. Of course it will be difficult to know for several months.

My daylilies look scalded. Should I cut back their foliage?
I asked the President of the Daylily Society of Middle Tennessee about the daylilies and the following is what he told me. Go ahead and remove the damaged foliage to prevent crown rot. In some cases this might mean simply cutting back a few dead leaves or pulling out the dead foliage by the handful. However, some plants that were severely burned might need to be cut back to the ground. They should flower this year, but they might be somewhat delayed.

My biggest damage was to dwarf and regular Nandina bushes. I have both one-year-old plantings of the dwarf shrubs and very old regular and dwarf Nandinas. The dwarves are brown, some all the way to the ground, with maybe one or two green leaves remaining. Any suggestions with them? My hydrangea bush looks as dead as after a first winter freeze. Although my new dogwoods look OK, my River Birch has some damage, but looks like it will probably survive.
We have begun to cut back some of the regular Nandinas. Ours were only a couple of feet tall and we are cutting them back to the ground. However, you can cut back just the damaged foliage and that is probably a better idea for the Dwarf varieties. They grow very slowly and it will take them longer to recover. If they are severely damaged, they may have to be cut back to the ground as well. It will be hard to know how much stem damage there is until they begin to grow new foliage. Give the Hydrangea time, it should recover. It may or may not flower this year, but with a little TLC it should be fine next year. The trees should also be fine with time. Make sure they are getting a good deep soaking twice a week in absence of significant rainfall.

I have a Hydranga bush, around five years old. It was supposed to be Blue Nikkon, but the blooms are more pink than anything. It was just starting to have leaves, fairly good sized ones. After the first night of the freeze those leaves turned real dark, eventually they fell off. People tell me there is no hope it will ever come back. I am hoping soon new leaves will start coming, but I don't really know what to expect. I haven't touched it yet.
I think it will come back, just give it a little time. Watch for new foliage to emerge from around the bottom of the plant. Once it begins to grow new leaves, trim away the dead and damaged portions of the plant. It might not flower this year, but it should recover and flower again next year.

Depending upon the selected varieties, Hydrangeas can be encouraged through soil amendments to turn from pink to blue. The color of the hydrangea changes to blue or purple after absorbing aluminum from an acidic soil. To raise soil acidity (lower pH), add aluminum sulfate (you should be able to purchase this at a local nursery). I would wait until next year to try this. Give the plants a year to recover from the freeze.

My iris were severely damaged by the freeze. All the leaves were affected and some of them look yellow right down to the ground. Should I cut all of them off? What is the chance I would be cutting off possible blooms -- or maybe they won't even bloom at all this year?
It is very possible they will not bloom this year, it depends on the variety and how badly damaged they are. Go ahead and remove the damaged foliage. Of course, it depending on how damaged they are, try no to remove any undamaged leaves if possible. If they don't flower this year, they should recover and bloom again next year. We were very lucky, many of the Siberian Iris here were undamaged and are just about to bloom.

I have 3 crepe myrtles in my yard. They have no green folage on them and the bark on the smaller outer limbs is coming off. Did I completely lose them during the freeze or will they come back?  The smaller outer limbs also are brittle and break, not bend when i bend them. Is there anything I can do to save them? do I trim them?
Give them more time. We have just seen new foliage on our largest Crepe Myrtles in the last few days. They do have dead tips, but thankfully they are not as damaged as we had feared. Larger crepe myrtles appear to have fared better than small ones, but it all depends on location and variety. Some smaller crepe myrtles may have to be cut back to the ground, but until they begin to produce new leaves, it is difficult to know how much damage they have. One way to tell is to lightly scratch the surface of the bark with your fingernail. If you expose green tissue, the stem is still alive. It will be several more weeks before we have a good idea of how well they are recovering.

I read your advice on the Nandina; however some of the branches on my bushes looked burned. Are they dead of just damaged? I'm not sure if I should cut them out or just leave them alone. Most of the bush survived and if I cut out the damaged they are going to look terrible. Please give me your advice. Also, do you think the myrtles are going to bloom this year?
There has been a wide range of damage to Nandina depending on location and variety. Some might only need to have dead leaves removed, some might need to have damaged stems cut back, and some might have to be cut back all the way to the ground. The only way to know for sure is to wait for them to produce new foliage and cut the stems just above where the new growth is emerging. I have not seen any produce new foliage yet. However, I am hopeful they will make a complete recovery with time.

Crepe Myrtles bloom on new wood. Therefore, I think some will bloom, but probably sporadically and later than usual. Of course, it depends on how badly the plant was damaged by the freeze. Smaller plants that were killed to the ground probably will not flower this year.

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