Too Close to Call

Janet Laminack

Janet Laminack, County Extension Agent-Horticulture

We know a little more now on how our landscapes fared after winter storm Uri. For the most part, I have been pleasantly surprised! It seems like many of our shrubs and trees are doing just fine.

Some plants are not as happy. Crape myrtles and some live oaks have been slow to leaf out. Indian hawthorns look mostly dead, but are showing some regrowth from the root.

Other plants, like rosemary and cenizo have lost limbs in random spots. They are too wonky to be aesthetically pleasing for most of our landscapes. And the pine trees continue to look worrisome.

Once again, if you can hold off on trimming and pruning, do so. Pruning or trimming won’t make something come back to life. Most horticulturists are holding off until at least July before announcing time of death on many of our trees.

As I mentioned in a previous article, we won’t really know the damage done to trees for a few years. It’s always a touchy subject to talk about rain in Texas, but recent rain at my house has been a bit too much. My clay soil was waterlogged. Water replaces air in the soil and plants can drown. My yard was beginning to stink like a sewer, which is a sign of being anaerobic (lacking sufficient oxygen). Plants in saturated soils often wilt, thus appearing thirsty. A well-intentioned human might give the plant more water and make the condition worse. Even if a plant doesn’t drown, going through a period of anaerobic soil conditions is stressful.

I don’t need to remind you that we haven’t even hit summer yet. Who knows what fun the weather has in store for us! It’s important to keep your trees, shrubs, and all plants as stress-free as possible. While fertilizing and watering seem like kindness, these activities can cause more stress.

The last reason not to hurry and rip out your landscape is that we are experiencing a shortage of well-adapted plants. Much of the south experienced Uri, with many plant suppliers and nurseries losing plants. Couple that with the building boom we are experiencing. Every new roof you see typically equals at least one tree and a handful of shrubs.

The wrong tree or shrub is going to cause you more grief and expense down the road. Non-woody perennials and annual flowers are a great choice to fill in landscapes while we wait for the green industry to catch up with demand. Besides, fall is a better time for planting shrubs and trees. If you need help picking out appropriate plants, there are online plant selectors that can help, like this one: (Be aware that this selector assigns a numerical value to the plants and you want plants that are an eight or higher). More information is available on the Master Gardener website,, or Facebook page. As always, you can give us a call, 940-349-2892, or send us an email to [email protected]

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension provides equal opportunities in its programs and employment to all persons, regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The Texas A&M University System, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the County Commissioners Courts of Texas Cooperating.