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Should you prune your dead leaves now or wait?

John Keeble/Getty Images
John Keeble/Getty Images (John Keeble/Getty Images)

Winter has not released its grip. And while your plants might be damaged, don’t get the clippers out just yet. If your plants have already been damaged by frost, now is not the time to add more stress to the plants.

Another freeze/frost event is on the way and if plants are not protected, you could see leaf damage with areas of brown and wilted leaves. Are the leaves dead? Yes and no. When a frost hits, the water freezes in the leaf, causing damage to the tissues.

Don’t start pruning yet. Instead, pick up the leaves on the ground and wait until our temperatures begin to warm. An exception to this would be warm weather annuals. If you planted marigolds or petunia, those can be laid to rest in the compost pile. For now, monitor your soil moisture levels and keep the rest of your plants hydrated.

But what if your plants aren’t looking their best, what with the dead and brown leaves? You’re not alone. But trimming those poor cordylines with wilted leaves and drooping stems now could cause bigger problems as the next cold front moves in. You see, pruning stimulates growth in the plant. Cutting or trimming your plant will start a new growth in the pruned area and that growth could be killed or damaged by the next frost.

Just wait out a couple more weeks of cold fronts before you start pruning and trimming.

Spring officially starts in March, but our typical February temperatures are near 70 degrees. Pruning-friendly conditions will be here around the second or third week February. In the meantime, sharpen those shears and keep watering.


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The Morning Show forecaster, comic foil, culinary expert, home improvement expert and beer connoisseur.