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Hibiscus after the Freeze

New Orleans, LA(Zone 9b)

Howdy. I've been in a new place now for about seven months and there's this really nice hibiscus that's at least several years old. At the base its diameter is about two inches. It stands about eight feet tall. The poor thing looks absolutely wretched right now. We had a weird week of below freezing (some nights down to 22-25f) and I'm wondering what I should do with it....pull off the leaves, go ahead and prune off the tips that look zapped, wait a few more weeks before doing anything...I know we get that hard freeze every ten years or so even in the deep south, but this isn't a plant I bought or planted, but I do want to do right by it.

Suggestions please.
Thanks.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

It's generally best to not prune frost damaged things until spring--first of all you can't tell which parts are really dead until it puts out some new growth, and also whatever's there now (even if it's dead) can help protect what's left if you get some more cold weather. Speaking from experience, frost-damaged hibiscus can be a bit slow to get going in the spring with the new growth so make sure you don't give up on it too quickly. If it's that large, chances are it's been there for quite a few years and has experienced this type of cold before so it really should come back.

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

Leave it alone. That is the best advice I ever got when it comes to shrubs after a freeze. I am just a bit Northwest of you in Ascension parish. It is best to do nothing at this time, but wait until our nighttime temps are consistently warmer and the hibiscus has a chance to start sprouting out again. I made the mistake of pruning back everything after a freeze . What you have may be an Althea (hibiscus syriacus) They are very hardy and will re-leaf when it warms up again. The last link is a seasonal info list of tiny urls.

http://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/lawn_garden/master_gardener/parish_lmg_programs/greater_new_orleans/hot_topics/cold+protection+tips.htm

http://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/lawn_garden/home_gardening/landscaping/cold+protection+in+the+landscape.htm

http://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/communications/news/get_it_growing/seasonal_archives/winter/

New Orleans, LA(Zone 9b)

Thanks guys.

I read from a Florida extention that it won't even start to put out new growth until the night time lows get above 50f. It just looks terrible, but I'll wait a month or so before doing anything I guess.

Howl and Crane...yer both in similar zones...either of you have ginger that was zapped recently? I cut all that stuff down, counting on the rhizomes to have survived the freeze. I have two type of that...shell, and butterfly (ginger).

again, thanks for the advice.

Virginia Beach, VA

I live in zone 7-A/B and has both the gingers , the butterfly is left outside and comes back however all my shells are in pots and are in the sun room. Shell are not as hardy as the butterfly.I agree with ecrane to leave it alone and then prune in spring as soon as you see growth. Good luck!! Belle

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

Hey Dude. I have a few different gingers here. All but the 4 new ones I got late summer are planted in the ground. I just mulch well and whack them back if they zapped by the cold. They come back reliably every year thus far (9 years at this house).

One of the hardest things to do is to leave "dead-looking" stuff in the yard...but, because our winter weather is so variable, you can do a clean up cuz the weather is warm, and then get slammed with a freeze a couple weeks later. With a lot of plants, cutting them back triggers them to start growing again....that is usually when our temps drop unexpectedly below 32 degrees. I killed a few things in the past with my impatience to clean the garden....grin

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