Although our winters are usually mild here in Charleston, we do occasionally experience a hard freeze that can damage or even kill landscape plants. We've put together a few tips for avoiding plant damage and caring for plants after a freeze event.
Preventing Cold Damage
The first and best way to guard against cold damage is to select plants that are appropriate for our growing region. Nearly all of the varieties we grow and stock at our nursery fall into this category. If temperatures are expected to be at or below freezing for an extended period - one or more hours - precautions taken to protect hardy landscape plants will lessen the likelihood of wilted or brown leaves and damaged flower buds.
Prior to the arrival of freezing temperatures, add mulch to cover plant roots, water if there's been a lack of rainfall (be careful to water the root zone, not the foliage), and cover plants with a "frost cloth." Frost cloth can be purchased or fashioned from a bed sheet or thick black plastic. Be sure to cover plants to the ground and secure to prevent plants from being exposed to cold air/wind.
Of course, it's hard to deny the beauty of certain colorful tropicals such as the Tropical Hibiscus. Tender plant varieties are often treated as annual container plantings throughout the warm season with the expectation that they may not survive a cold winter. However, these and other annual flowers can be protected from freezing temperatures by bringing them into a covered area such as a garage. If containerized plants are too heavy to move, water them in place and cover with a frost cloth. Note: Containerized plants left outside may not survive hours of cold exposure even if watered in and covered.
Plant Care After a Freeze
After a cold snap has passed, allow ice or snow to melt away naturally. It can take days or longer for cold damage to become visible. Freeze damage will likely present itself as wilted or brown leaves, browned and/or fallen flower buds, or splitting/cracks in the bark of shrubs and trees.
Clean up cold damage on hardy perennial plants by removing any mushy, wilted foliage immediately. You may also strip crispy, brown foliage from deciduous woody ornamentals and trees at this time if desired.
Resist pruning damaged shrubs and trees right away. Instead, wait until warmer weather arrives and temperatures have stabilized to prune away dead wood. This will prevent stimulating the plants to produce new growth too soon.
Find Your PLANT's Perfect Match This Growing Season!
Such anticipation! Southern Indica Azaleas and Carolina jessamine are in bud and bloom, the weather is warming up nicely, and we couldn't be more excited about Spring arriving in Charleston. This month, we'd like to share a helpful guide for selecting Espoma Organic fertilizers by plant type to keep your flowers, shrubs, and trees in peak condition.
Ready to Get Growing? We're Here to Help!
Make a list of existing landscape plantings, or take photos and bring them into the Garden Center. Our Nursery Professionals can assist you in plant identification and provide you with fertilizer recommendations specific to your plant type(s). We are also happy to review the proper fertilizer pairing for any new plants when you're here shopping.
GROW & THRIVE - What you'll need AFTER you plant:
Espoma's other organic 'tone' fertilizers can be used after planting, throughout the growing season. These easy-to-use granulated fertilizers are typically applied around the plant at the soil level. (see application instructions on each product label for frequency and amount to use)
Visit the Brownswood Nursery Garden Center and speak with one of our Nursery Professionals about our complete selection of Espoma Organic garden products such as additional single ingredient soil amendments, fertilizers, and planting mixes. We look forward to growing with you this season!
Top Performers for our Hot Summers
As Lowcountry residents, we've grown accustomed to the waves of heat and humidity that occur during our summer months. Whether you find our summer season charming or you can't wait 'til fall, as someone who enjoys gardening and beautiful landscapes, you will certainly agree that plants well-adapted to our climate are highly regarded! The following is just a small sampling of the popular heat tolerant plants we have here at the Nursery for sun and for shade.
Heat Tolerant Plants for Sun:
Coneflowers are heat and drought tolerant champions once established in a sunny location. Requiring minimal maintenance, these colorful perennial flowers return year after year much to the delight of gardeners and pollinators.
This sun-loving perennial blooms prolifically through the warm season, providing bright color and plentiful nectar for pollinators. Available in many colors and mature sizes to suit any sunny, well-drained spot.
Sweetgrass (Muhly Grass)
This native perennial grass is covered in fluffy pinkish-purple or white plumes during the Fall season and appreciates a sunny, well-drained location. Sweetgrass proves to be low maintenance and stands up to heat very well once it's settled into its place in the landscape.
Another pollinator-attracting plant, Bottlebrush is a sturdy, evergreen shrub that gets its name from the many bright red, bottle brush shaped flowers it produces for weeks during the warm season. Bottlebrush comes in a variety of sizes from dwarf (2-3' tall) to standard (8-12' tall), making it a popular selection for any sized garden space.
Ligustrum Jack Frost
Tried-and-true Ligustrum Jack Frost is versatile, performing well in bright sun or part shade throughout the heat of the summer. Variegated evergreen foliage and creamy white spring blooms make this selection an easy choice for any location that calls for a sun-tolerant shrub with attractive foliage.
Heat Tolerant Plants for Shade:
A Lowcountry favorite that enjoys our subtropical climate, evergreen Fatsia japonica offers large, palmate leaves and grows well in shaded spaces with rich, well-drained soil. Clusters of white flowers arise in Fall and are followed by berries that attract birds. Give this beauty lots of room as it will mature to a size of 6-10' tall and wide.
Another plant to round out a tropical oasis feel in the landscape is Philodendron selloum. This large-growing plant matures to 8-10' tall and wide and offers beautifully ornate split leaves. Though it looks as though it might not overwinter, this plant goes through our mild winters quite well as an evergreen.
Cast Iron Plant
As its name suggests, Cast Iron plant has a reputation for being virtually indestructible. Evergreen and tolerant of a variety of less-than-ideal growing conditions, including deep shade, the only thing this plant really asks is not to be exposed to direct sunlight. Matures slowly to 2' tall by 2-3' wide.
Anise is a popular evergreen shade shrub for its ability to tolerate heat and humidity and because it is not preferred by deer. Various foliage colors and mature sizes are available, allowing for flexibility when combining with companion plantings in shady garden spaces.
This dwarf Sabal Palm grows well in shade or sun. A great selection for areas that are low lying and tend to hold water, this native Palm will also tolerate drought once established. Small fruits that form after late-spring flowers attract wildlife.
We highly recommend amending the soil in your planting area with Brownswood Premium Planting mix as well as a starter fertilizer such as Espoma Organic Bio-tone® Starter Plus to give your new plants their best start. Our Planting Guide provides planting instructions and helpful information about watering and getting new plants established. You can pick up a copy of this guide at our Garden Center or download it using the link below.