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winter-garden-cleanup

We had some cold weather so far this winter! It was both spectacular and scary to see ice on the ground and in flowerbeds for days. As you get out in your yard, your plants will tell you how cold it was.

A lot of tropical and annual plants will have some cold damage in the form of dark brown mushy leaves. Do you remove them or leave them? Do you cut back the plant or leave it?
Unfortunately, most tropical plants will not make it after the recent cold spells, but if you have hope then leave them alone. The dead plant tissue will actually insulate the rest of the plant. If the unsightly mess is too much to look at, then clean up the dead leaves and add mulch. The mulch will insulate the rest of the plant for the remainder of the winter.

As far as what to cut back and when: Mother Nature can tell you. When the plants start leafing back out, they will tell you what died and what is still good.
Another way to tell is to scratch the bark. If it is bright green underneath, then it is alive.
If it is brown, then it died up to that point. Test all the way down the branch… if you find no green, then it has been damaged to the ground. Keep in mind that dead tissue at the end of the branches acts as insulation against further freezes, so do not be in a rush to cut back damaged plants.