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What to do with late season frost damage

It’s *almost* hard to believe we’re still contending with frost warnings around and AFTER Mother’s Day, but then we remember: we’re in Cincinnati, it’s 2020, we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, and just about anything seems possible.

It does seem like we’re in the last week of the danger weather for tender new plants & growth, and we’re WELL past the last average frost date for Cincinnati according to this: https://www.farmersalmanac.com/average-frost-dates, but yet, here we are, covering our annuals and newly planted veggies, trees & shrubs with bed sheets and bringing hanging baskets & porch pots under the carport for the night.

We were taunted with some great weather late March, and the month of April was nice and warm (for the most part) so some of us may have gone against what we know to be true and planted a little early. Who can blame us? In the last 8 weeks, our whole world has been turned upside down. We needed something to be constant, positive and productive- so many of us turned to our gardens & plants. And while some of us now may be looking at two steps forward, one step back, or one step forward and two steps back, it’s ok. We will press on.

So, what should you do if, like many of us, you planted some tender shrubs & plants & fruit trees before 2020’s second January? You got your Crape Myrtle in the ground, and it’s got a few frost bitten leaves at the top..don’t fret. Crape Myrtles are notoriously late blooming as it is, yours may very well flourish later this year.

What about your hydrangea- it’s also got some brown, frost bitten leaves?

Crape Myrtle sustained a little frost damage, but will recover.



Our nursery manager and resident tree & shrub guru, Josh Rupley, has this to say about the recent frosty temperatures:

“Any trees and or shrubs that have been damaged by the freezing temps and frosty mornings can be treated all more or less the same. Since we should be free and clear of any more damaging low temps to trees and shrubs people can start to asses the damage and take the appropriate steps to prune and feed them. ” (*this is as of Tuesday, May 12)

He goes on to say this about how to figure out if your plant sustained serious damage:

“The best way to asses damage to a tree or shrub is to scratch the bark with your finger nail on affected branches.”

If the bark scrapes easily and the underlying tissue is green then that branch is still alive and viable.  If the branch is hard to scrape and no green tissue is visible the tissue is dead and you will have to remove effected area with pruning.  Pruning will encourage new growth to emerge below the prune.

Fertilizing your trees and shrubs will also encourage new growth.  If you cant tell which parts of the trees or shrubs have died, still fertilize the plant and wait a few weeks until new growth begins to emerge from the live viable parts of the plant.  At this point it should be obvious as to what should be then pruned off.

We carry a number of different products, one is the Espoma line- it has a wide range of plant & shrub specific fertilizers & food geared toward what particular plants need.

So, there you have it. We surely didn’t think we’d be sharing these tips with you at this point of the year, but again, it’s 2020 and anything can happen.

If you’ve waited to do most of your planting until now, and are still making some decisions about what plants to include in your landscape, read on for some information about a plant that’s synonymous with summer.

One of our most popular shrub every year, especially around Mother’s Day, is the hydrangea. Grandma won’t admit she has a favorite grandchild, but if she did, we all know who it would be, right? That’s what it’s like to be a hydrangea. You just know you’re the favorite. What’s not to love? With so many varieties and looks, there is something for everyone’s taste- Hydrangea Annabelle, Bobo, and Incrediball for the classic, clean, white look, Endless Summer with the pink or blue blooms that can change depending the type of soil they’re in, to the Hydrangea Zebra (green blooms which turn white- no stripes- the ‘zebra’ part comes from the black stem) So, we’ve literally got them A to Z.

The hydrangeas in the middle of the alphabet are pretty magnificent as well- ranging in beautiful shades of delicate pink to PINK, to mauve to “quick fire” and then we’ve got limes & lemons for more of a citrusy look or theme. Take a look here for our current inventory: https://burgerfarms.com/garden-center/trees-shrubs/shrub-inventory-04-05-20/  

If you’re looking for tree forms: https://burgerfarms.com/garden-center/trees-shrubs/tree-inventory-04-05-20/

Our hydrangea shrubs located outside of our greenhouse toward the jungle gym/swingset area;  trees are in the nursery.

As different as the bloom color and shape can be, so are some of the sun & soil requirements and pruning tips. We’ve got a large poster hanging in our shrub section to help you identify which hydrangea may be best suited for your yard.

Here’s some articles we like about the different types of hydrangeas and care instructions (particularly sun vs. shade types and the old wood versus new wood when it comes to growth and pruning)




We encourage you to take a few minutes and read up on the different types, compare to what you can offer (sun, shade, what type of soil you have- particularly the pH level for the Endless Summer type- the bloom color will range from blue to pink with your acidic or alkaline levels)

No matter which you choose, proper education will be the key to your success. Knowing what conditions you can offer will determine which type of hydrangea (or any plant) will be best for you. All plants need water, light & food, but they don’t all need the same amounts. If you’ve been watching one of your plants struggle, it may not be because you have a black thumb, it may simply be because your plant wasn’t set up for success to begin with. Knowing what your plant needs to thrive, and providing them with those requirements, makes a world of difference.

As always, we are here to help- please stop in or call if you have specific care questions or concerns. Happy Planting!