In Press: Hold off on pruning freeze-damaged plants, PSS horticulturist says
By: Norman Martin
This month Vikram Baliga, greenhouse manager for Texas Tech's Department of Plant and Soil Science, was featured in an informative weather-related story by Brittany Michaelson for the KCBD website in Lubbock. Here's part of the discussion.
Vikram Baliga, a lecturer and greenhouse manager within Texas Tech University's Department of Plant and Soil Science, is advising fretting home gardeners to wait and see before giving up on freeze-damaged plants.
It's too soon to tell the extent of the February storm's toll—and in most cases, it's too early to act as well. “If it looks like towards the end of April, and we're not getting good foliage or leaves on our plants, they're not flowering or doing the things that they normally do, that's when we might start to get concerned and look at different ways that we can help them along,” Baliga said.
Baliga says spring weeds are already coming up, so now is the time to either pull them or use a chemical treatment. “We want to make sure that our lawns and landscapes are as clean as we can get them, reasonably, at this time of year and your plants that you actually want to have will be much happier for it,” Baliga said.
An experienced horticulturist, Baliga recommends waiting a few weeks to prune and shear hedges and to hold off on fertilizer until after Mother's Day. There's always a chance for a late freeze, and he warns against starting new growth before that can happen.
In terms of trees, Baliga said a scratch test on the tree's bark can help. If the tree is green underneath, you're fine. But where you start to see brown or white, start trimming. Right now, the best thing people can do is keep their plants well-watered. For trees, once a week is enough.
“Water heavily,” he said. “Don't just run your lawn sprinklers and assume that's going to be enough for trees. You want to be watering them separately, through drip lines or hoses.
Much of the region's potential plant and tree damage can be traced directly to the frigid, icy weather that battered the Lubbock area in mid-February. During that long, wintery week Texas saw some of its coldest temperatures in more than 30 years, with some areas breaking records that are more than a century old.
According to the U.S. National Weather Service, the cause was down to an "Arctic outbreak" that originated just above the U.S.-Canada border, bringing a winter snow storm as well as plummeting temperatures. Cold air outbreaks such as these are normally kept in the Arctic by a series of low-pressure systems. However, this one moved through Canada and spilled out into Texas.
Baliga received his bachelor's degree in horticulture with a landscape design emphasis from Texas A&M University. His master's degree in horticulture, as well as his doctorate in plant and soil science is from Texas Tech. He is a member of the Crop Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Soil Science Society of America and the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association.
Contributing Brittany Michaelson / Photo Ashley Rodgers
CONTACT: Glen Ritchie, Chair, Department of Plant and Soil Science, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-4325 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Editor: Norman Martin
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