I’m ready to get outside and clean up the garden after the freeze. What can I cut back now?
The freeze damaged a lot of tropical-looking garden plants, and you can prune these plants now; then make sure you water well and mulch with pine needles or leaves at the base of the plants: Cannas, caladiums and tropical-looking elephant ears – cut shriveled leaves to the ground. Gingers – yellow or brown stems may just pop off the plant, or cut them back in the spring. Firespike (Odontonema) and firecracker plant (Russelia) – can be cut to the ground. Hummingbird bush (Hamelia), a Florida/Caribbean native, and turk’s cap (Malvaviscus), a tough Texas native – trim to shape or to the ground. Hibiscus plants – you need to figure out what kind you have: Herbaceous hibiscus, like the Texas star and those with dinner-plate sized flowers – cut the dead stems to the ground. Rose of Sharon hibiscus is a woody shrub – cut for shape. Tropical hibiscus with brightly colored flowers – protect them during cold snaps and don’t prune until spring. The cotton rose hibiscus may be tree-sized, so best to wait until spring. Don’t prune these semi-hardy plants until spring: angel’s trumpets, jatropha, candlestick plant, cassia, citrus and pittosporum. If you can wait, it’s best to just tidy up the garden – a great way to stay warm during our cold snaps – then prune in early March.