Cold Damage Palm Tree & Shrub Care

Cold Damage Palm Tree

Did You Receive Cold Damage in Your Florida Landscape? After experiencing freezing temperatures many people are wondering…“Will I need to replace my trees and shrubs?” Most likely you won’t have to replace all of them. With the proper cold damage palm tree and shrub care, they can bounce back from the cold even if they have been hit hard. “What can I do and what should I expect?” are questions many of you have.

Cold Damaged Shrubs

First, you will see the leaves turning brown and dropping off. This is a normal and natural process for them to do. Don’t be alarmed if all that is left are branches and stems. The way to check if they are still alive is to scrape off the bark with your fingernail going all the way down to the base of the shrub. If you see green tissue, they are still alive. Also, remember the roots can still be alive so don’t remove them right away.

Pruning Cold Damaged Shrubs

If part of the stems or branches is brown or hollow they will need to be cut back to where the green begins. Even if this means cutting them back all the way down to the base of the shrub. The tops can be dead but the bottoms can be still alive.

Wait until Springtime begins to do any pruning. The shrub is still in shock and plus you don’t want to stimulate new growth for another freeze can still happen. Just be patient and hold off pruning for now.

Cold Damage Care for Fertilizing your Shrubs

Do Not fertilize your shrubs right now, wait until spring arrives. It is best to leave them alone for now. When springtime begins, apply a “Slow-Release” Granular Fertilizer such as “6-6-6” or “8-10-10”.

It is okay to continue to water as you normally would even if a freeze has occurred. In fact water as soon as possible. By Spring you will know what survived and those that did not. Shrubs that are still alive will bounce back, with cold damage palm tree and shrub care.

Cold Damage Palm Tree Treatment

Palm trees that have been hit by cold damage need to be immediately treated with a Fungicide such as “Liquid Copper“. Spray them two times fourteen days between each treatment. Do Not treat more than twice.

Make sure the trunk gets treated thoroughly so the tree will get a drink, soaking it up. Spray the leaves where they are still green with a Nutritional Palm Liquid Fertilizer. There is no need to treat the brown areas on the leaves. Wait until Springtime to apply a Granular Fertilizer formulated for Palm Trees.

Pruning Cold Damaged Palm Trees

Prune off all dead branches to where they are all eliminated. Cut back brown tips to where green begins. Leave the green portions of the branches even if they are spotted yellow.

If newly grown branches and leaves appear to be deformed, brown, or abnormal, the tree has been severely damaged. Any sudden collapse of some or all branches emerging in the crown will indicate the trunk is damaged. This can result in a loss of the palm tree.

Palm trees should grow out of the cold damage but will take some time to completely recover. It can take four to six months well into the summer to return to normal even if cold damage palm tree and shrub care have been done. Only time will tell just how bad they have been affected by freezing temperatures.

After Cold Damage Palm And Shrub Care Is Done

Don’t give up and throw in the towel because it is not a hopeless case. With the proper cold damage palm tree and shrub care, there are good chances your trees and shrubs will bounce back and be fine.  Don’t panic. Just wait patiently to find out how bad it really is.

By springtime, you will know if any need to be replaced. I have seen shrubs take a hard hit from cold weather and return to normal quickly.

Final Thoughts

If you see new growth starting to appear, then that is a good sign they are going to be alright. Palm trees will take longer to show signs of bouncing back. Treat palm trees with palm fertilizer in the summer as you would when following your regular program of nutrient feeding.

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  1. Hi! I live in Botswana, in summer the temperature reaches up to 39 degrees . It is now winter and we’ve experience bad frost. I have about 15 royal palms,a few have been hit badly by frost. We do not get liquid copper here,what else can I use for the palms? N will they regrow after frost bite?

  2. Lisa,
    You can use other kinds of liquid fungicide rather than liquid copper, as long as it is labeled for usage on plants, trees, shrubs, or lawns. You can also use granular fungicide if it is not available in liquid form.

    Same goes for nutritional palm liquid fertilizer, use any liquid fertilizer labeled for plants, trees, and shrubs. If you can get something like “Miracle-Gro” products, use it. DO NOT use any fertilizer product labeled for “Acid Loving Plants”. You can also use granular fertilizer for plants, trees, shrubs.

    If they are not dead or dying they will eventually grow back. However, it will take quite some time. When the weather warms up in spring and summer, new grow will be the first sign they are trying to recover. It is better for them to be treated as soon as possible for them to return to normal more quickly.


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