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Ask Gerry : Trees and Shrubs : Frost damage


, Gortahork Posted On: April 7, 2017

I planted white hydrangea, after 2 weeks the leaves turned white and the stalks just collapsed..what could be the cause?

Hydangeas do not normally flower until well into summer.

This plant was brought on early in a glasshouse and was soft, so that when it got harsh weather it scalded.

It is a set back but it will probably recover. 

Can Punica granatum grow outdoor?

, Cork Posted On: January 24, 2017

Can Pomegranate and Persimmon grow outdoor at Ireland? If yes, which breed is better?

Both are Mediterranean to sub-tropical, liking a hot sunny summer.

They might survive, for a while at least, against a sunny wall in a favoured very mild garden.  

Palm tree

, Newbridge Posted On: October 20, 2016

I have a Chusan palm tree for ten years it’s about 10ft high. Every year I cover it with a fleece bag but it’s so high it will be very hard to do. is it hardy.

Chusan palm or trachycarpus is hardy, no need to cover it at all.

Overwintering shrubs in pots

, Tallaght, D24HNC2 Posted On: October 14, 2015

I have a fuchsia collection in raised beds in my front garden. This area will become a builders site in a few months when we have an extension built. My plan is to lift the fuchsias ( about 50 of them, both H3 and H2) into pots which my kind neighbours have agreed to store. Will bubble-wrapping the well mulched pots and fleecing the branches cut to about 30-40cm be enough protection, or what else would you suggest?

Plants in pots over ground level are more likley to be damaged, as the roots and stem bases can freeze more easily but your precautions should certainly be okay in an average winter.

Spruce (fir) tree seeds from Israel

, Ratoath Posted On: August 18, 2015

Some years ago, I bought back two cones from Israel (sentimental reasons) and recently put a couple of the seeds into some compost. Surprisingly they have taken root and I now have four little bright yellow green spikey shoots almost like the spikes of an upturned umbrella. Do you think they will survive here and can you give me any tips on how to help them survive in our climate.

It is more likely to be a pine species than a spruce, possibly Aleppo pine or stone pine. The latter is a bit tougher.

There is nothing can be done to ensure survival in this cooler climate. 


, Malahide Posted On: July 10, 2015

I purchased this Boronia and it had beautiful pink flowers. It died a sudden death and lookes so dry even thought I have watered it every day. Initally I had it in a pot then put it in the front garden which get good sun in the afternoon and early evening. Is there any way to restore this lovely plant. Help. Kind regards Bernie

Boronia is a greenhouse plant and cannot take frost. If frost was not the cause, it just dried out in the pot.

Don't water any more until there is a heat wave. You never know, it might sprout lower down, though unlikely. 

problem with ash trees

, Stradbally Posted On: May 19, 2015

have noticed that some ash trees in my area have a blackish hue to them. When you look closely at branches it looks like hundreds of tiny, flat, dark coloured leave like structures are present. have been told that trees have gone to seed too early. Is this what has happened and what has caused it.

Ash usually has small male flowers and larger elongated female flowers on separate trees.

These are both blackish at the start and turn green. They can be affected by frost and harsh winds and may blacken further and become dried.

Tree slow to recover from from frost damage

, Stranorlar Posted On: June 26, 2012

In relation to one of your previous questions about a frost damaged cornus controversa, I also have one (planted in January) that got frost causing all the buds to go black. I removed some of these tips but even at this late stage there is nearly no leaves on it. Apart from a few black spots the stems seem healthy. Is there anything I can do to improve it’s chances? Also is there any point trying to grow paulownia this far north for flower display?


Cornus might yet recover from frost damage, just be sure that slugs and snails do not get at any new shoots.

Paulownia is worth trying and will flower after a couple of good summers, and the foliage is great in any case.

frost damaged plants

, Donaghmore Posted On: May 24, 2012

Lots of my shrubs and small trees have been badly burned by frost and I’m not sure what to do with them. Some of them are definitely having some die-back, so for them I just cut back to sound material. But what to do with Hydrangeas with burned leaves, and in particular a two year old Cornus Controversa which has over 50% of the leaves burned.


Frost or cold dry winds can cause this kind of damage in spring.

It is best to leave the plants to recover and not to cut anything away.

A plant is always better offer with half a leaf rather than no leaf.

leave dead shrub roots in ground?

, Mullingar Posted On: February 3, 2012

Viburnums were killed by frost last winter. Problems if I leave roots in the ground? If so , remedy?I would like to plant Viburn again or Red Robin. Also I want to grow apple trees near where I cut down a Hibiscus the roots of which are in ground. Forsee any problems?


If the shrubs are dead, the roots, if left, will rot away in due course and the risk of any disease is minimal.

If any shrub sprouts that you don't want, apply Roundup to the re-growth.


Posted On: October 9, 2011

My Cordyline which died because of the bad snow last year has re-sprouted from below the soil. Instead of one new re-growth, I have three. Should I dig two of them up and re-plant them elsewhere as the three are in very close proximity to the other. Also my Mahonia and phormium have re-sprouted again after being damaged by the snow.


Cordyline that has resprouted can have excess shoots cut away, or left, as preferred. They cannot be dug up as they are sprouted from the main stem.

For mahonia and phormium, cut away any remaining dead foliage or stems.

Protect escalonia hedge

Posted On: September 7, 2011

My 8 year old 60m Escalonia hedge was badly affected by frost last year. I cut it back strongly in early summer and each bush seems to have had new growth. Is there anything I can do to protect it this year, besides praying?


The weather is unlikely to be as bad but there is nothing practical that can be done.

Damaged griselinia hedge

, Abbeyfeale Posted On: September 1, 2011

Had healthy griselinia hedge 30m long 5m high 6ft wide.Neighbour cut same with tractor mounted hedge cutter august 2010. Result mangled.Got professional help cut another 4ft off sprayed against disease.fed with liquid fertilisor nov 2010. Looking at hedge 90% of it has no leaves at all.There are no new buds . Will it recover and bud next year or is it goosed.Stems also looked burned.


Thousands of griselinia hedges have been killed or severely damaged by frost and need to be replaced.

The parts that have sprouted will recover, the rest is dead.


, Portlaoise Posted On: August 12, 2011

Regarding my hedge which was badly damaged by frost, but it is now showing regrowth. I asked should I cut it down. feed it or leave it alone.


If it is showing re-growth, it will eventually recover, or at least the plants that are growing will. The dead tops can be taken off and gaps planted.


, Portlaoise Posted On: August 9, 2011

I have a Griselinia hedge about 6ft high and 60ft long!!! I thought it was killed by frost as all the leaves have fallen off and there was just bare branches. However now there is a good bit of growth comming from the bottom of the plant!! Should I cut down the hedge? Feed it? Or just leave it be? Will it grow back do you think?


If there is new growth it will recover, but this may be uneven and patchy, and it will take a few years. But a new hedge would too.

Cutting down a Cordyline

Posted On: July 28, 2011

I thought my 18ft Cordyline had survived the bad winter as it continued to grow and flowered recently but this week I noticed the bark is falling off about a foot from the bottom of all three trunks… Assuming that this tree is now dead I am going to cut it down and let the new growth which has appeared out of the ground to continue to grow.. I was wondering should I leave the stumps of the remaining tree bare after I cut them or should I treat them with something?


If the trees flowered and are still growing, they are still alive, evenif the bark has shed in places, but if you wish, cut them down and allow the new shoots to grow. There is nothing to paint on the cut surfaces.

What to do with “dead” eucalyptus tree?

, Castledermot Posted On: July 28, 2011

The past two very cold winters have taken a considerable toll on our eucalyptus tree. Apart from some recent new growth at the base, the entire tree looks dead and at times smells of rotting timber. , many Thanks for any help.


Many eucalyptus have been killed or damged.

Cut it down to the new growth and wait to see what happens.

6 foot fern tree.

, Cork Posted On: July 26, 2011

Can you advise how I can protect a tree fern next winter in case we get same very cold weather. I also had ferns in ground around tree but there are no leves coming on them. Any suggestions?


You can pack the area of the buds with straw or similar material, wood wool, bracken etc. This can helpt o reduce frost damage if not too severe.

Do I feed my Cordyline

, Clonsilla Posted On: July 26, 2011

I wrote to you last April asking how to save my 30 yr old Cordyline in which I really thought had died from our harsh winter, I cut all the side branches and the top off, and just left it standing at 12ft tall. This week I’ve noticed 4 new shoots appearing around the base of the trunk, do I need to feed it now or do i just leave it.



Cordyline often recovers from below ground level, sometimes 2 years after frost. These shoots can be left, or reduced in number. But need no feeding.

Withering lonicera nitida hedge

Posted On: July 25, 2011

I have a lonicera nitida hedge which is 60 years old and was in excellent condition until this year. The entire hedge (about 200 feet) is now withering (I have attached a phot). I think the snow earlier in the year may have caused the problem. I have tried treating the headge with Miracle Grow compost and Grow More fertiliser but to no avail. If you have any suggestions as to what I could do to try to revive it.


SOme old hedges did suffer with frost damage.

Kill the grass with Roundup for 60 or 100cms to reduce root competition. It can be re-sown when the hedge recovers.

 Feed the dead area with 20g per metre of tree and shrub fertiliser. You could ease off on clippling and cut out dead bits low down and plant some cuttings in October in the gaps, Lonicera roots easily from cuttings. 

frost damage to hedge

Posted On: July 10, 2011

bad frost damage to griissalinia hedge any suggestions? do you think if i cut it out hedge will recover? It looks very brown and dead in parts. thank you for any advice you may have.


Cut out the dead bits and train in from the side.

Griselina Hedge

, New Ross Posted On: July 4, 2011

We planted a griselina bareroot hedge in March 2010 it was growing well until April 2011 now half of the hedge has turned brown and lost all the leaves. Are these trees dead. one or two of the remaining trees leaves have started to go yellow lately and i’m afraid they will to go brown and loose their leaves.


If all leaves have fallen the plants are dead. And the only question is whether you replace them with griselinia, which runs the rick of future damage, or laurel which is more frost tolerant.


, Longford Posted On: June 24, 2011

I notice that there are signs of life at the base of ny hedge which I thought was killed by last years frost. Is it your advice to cut away all the dead wood in the hope that growth will take off.


Yes you can cut away the dead wood, but re-growth might be patchy and uneven.

mahonia and phormium

Posted On: June 10, 2011

I have a mahonia and phormium which were doing well until the bad weather. Both plants died off, re-sprouted and died again. Today I’ve noticed a sprout from beneath the soil on the mahonia and two weeks ago the phormium began to sprout. How can I protect them in case of more bad weather?


You cannot protect them from exceptionally cold weather as we had last year. They have to take their chances.

Sick Pittospornum ‘Silver Queen’

, Crosshaven Posted On: June 4, 2011

This large pittospornum has been in our garden since before we built our house on the site. This year the tree seems to be a bit sick, with much less leaves than usual. The leaves that are on it seem to lack vigour also. There have been some limbs cut off about 4 years ago, but they mostly seem to have healed / be healing. Is it possible to transplant theses to other parts of the garden and will they grow on next year? when and how should be transplanted?Is it likely that the cold winter has caused this? If so, is there any hope for the tree? I have some more photos but could only upload one.


That appears to be frost damage and it is unlikely that the tree will recover its former condition.