Are you having a hard time ignoring them? Or maybe you have no problem with some brown spots in your garden.
I know that some of you are just itching to get outside with either your hedge-trimmers, loppers or your pruners. Well, before you pick up your pruning tool of choice - I have some important advice for you....
Okay, you may be asking why can't you go outside and prune away that brown ugly stuff in your garden?
Well, the answer is that you can prune it away, just not now.
There are two good reasons not to prune back your frost-damaged plants during the winter.
1. Oftentimes, the brown, dead looking branches are not dead on the inside. The warm temperatures of spring will cause new growth in much of the dead-looking branches. If you prune your plants too early, you may be removing live branches.
New growth in March.
2. In general, pruning stimulates plants to produce new growth. Many gardeners make the mistake of pruning too early and a spell of warm weather causes new growth to form. Then a period of freezing temperatures occurs which not only kills the new growth, but can even result in the death of your plant.
3. The brown and crispy stuff actually protects the interior and sometimes the lower foliage of your plant from further cold damage.
So, I hope these reasons help to convince you to turn a blind eye to your brown and crispy plants for a little while.
Once the threat of frost is over, you can go ahead and prune away to your heart's content :-)
But, beware of giving into the temptation to start pruning a little early. You never know when a late frost will hit. Sometimes just when you think that there is nothing but warm weather ahead, a late frost can sneak up on you. If you aren't sure you can keep your pruners off of your plants....then ask someone else to lock them up and only give them back when the threat of frost is over ;-)
I got hit by a late frost once when I had a large event to prepare for, which entailed purchasing over 100 potted geraniums. We had this event every year and the geraniums were an essential part. They would line the winding pathway to the party. We had spent the afternoon setting them out a couple of days ahead of of the party. That night a late and unexpected frost hit and killed them all and my budget also took a hit.
Maybe you can't stand having frost-damaged plants in your garden anymore. If that is the case, I have an assignment for you.....
Take a drive through your neighborhood and those close by as well. Look at your neighbor's front gardens and see what plants are still green and did not suffer any frost-damage.
The Yucca, Desert Spoon and Pygmy Date Palm all did well while the Trailing Lantana did not.
The Ficus tree fared poorly while the Tipuana Tipu tree did well.
When looking around, you will find exceptions. Some plants that normally would suffer frost damage look healthy and green....
As you can see, there is a large Blue Palo Verde tree with a 'Torch Glow' Bougainvillea underneath to the right. This type of Bougainvillea has a very characteristic shape. The Bougainvillea did not suffer frost damage.
Well, the overhanging branches of the Palo Verde tree provided some protection from the cold temperatures.
This knowledge can be quite helpful to you if you like having frost-sensitive plants in your garden, but don't like the brown and crispy winter look. By planting Lantana, Bougainvillea, etc underneath a tree with filtered shade, you can oftentimes skip the ugly, winter stage.
**So in the meantime, if the urge to prune away the brown, crispy frost-damaged growth from your plants gets too strong - ask a family member or friend to take your pruning tools and hide them away from you until March ;-)