First Aid for Saving Your Plants and Trees After a Freeze

Date February 04, 2022

Author TreeNewal Staff

With last night’s freezing temperatures, many homeowners in North Texas are waking up to find their plants and trees covered in ice. This can be a devastating sight, especially if you’re not sure how to properly care for your plants and trees afterward. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to help them recover. For all your questions and concerns about first aid for your plants and trees after a freeze, TreeNewal has got it covered!

What should I do first after a freeze?

Once a freeze warning has been issued, your best first step for protection is to cover your vulnerable plants with sheets, towels, burlap, or any other breathable material. Save the heavier fabrics for hard freezes (when the temperature will be 28 degrees or lower for at least 5 consecutive hours).

  • Remove these covers first thing the next morning. Check out our recent post for the full details on how to protect plants from a sudden freeze.

What do my plants need most after a freeze?

This may be a surprise, but plants and trees likely need to be watered, especially if they’re experiencing a cold shock. A little extra water will help to boost their recovery from the distress and strain put on them by the weather. Add approximately an inch to an inch and a half of water to help thaw the soil surrounding the plant, as typically during a freeze, moisture is extracted from the internal structure.

  • It is recommended you water in the afternoon or evening the day after a freeze so plants have had a chance to slowly raise their temperature.
  • Moisture retained in the soil may still be frozen and inaccessible to the roots; the plants will be at risk of drying out.

Will my plants come back after a freeze?

Many plants will likely lose leaves thanks to the freeze damage, but you should expect them to leaf out again come springtime. Consistently water and add a thin layer of fertilizer once the worst of the freeze is over.

What do you do with frost-damaged trees?

If the freeze was severe enough that your tree branches sustain dieback, pruning will be very important to plan for once all the ice and snow have melted. Make sure to not put off pruning for too long, as pruning is safest when the tree is still dormant.

Can plants recover from the cold shock?

Though the injury to the leaves is likely permanent, nature is feisty/hardy/enduring. Any leaves with severe damage will fall off on their own to make way for new sprouts and shoot to pop up! Given several weeks to months for healing along with some sunshine, adequate warmth, and hydration, your trees, and plants should be just fine.

Should I remove frost-damaged leaves?

Damage happens because of ice crystals infiltrating the plant’s interior at a cellular level. The more vulnerable new growth typically bears the brunt of such damage. While you may want to immediately trim away any gloomy-looking part of the cold damaged plant, hold off until the spring wherever possible so that the full extent of the damage can be seen and assessed first.

When should I cut back my plants after freezing?

Resist pruning any of your trees for at least several days after a freeze. It can take multiple days of snow and ice melting away to see the full extent of the damage and also for plants left out in the cold that might have appeared damaged to show they’re actually doing just fine!

Patience patience patience!

Can leaves recover from frost?

If a plant is exposed for too long, frost can absolutely kill a plant, even an indoors species. However, many are hardy enough to quickly recuperate no matter how many dead leaves you see still attached. Our advice is to just follow the classic plan of care to help these plants and trees recover from frost.

How do you warm up cold plants?

Make sure to keep your cold plants away from a wood fire or radiator heater, though it may seem like a harmless quick fix for warming your cold plants. Instead, keep the plant near where it’s normally kept but out of direct sunlight for 48 hours after the freeze. Immediately hydrate the plant with 1 inch or so of water and easy drainage.

It’s important to take care of your trees and plants after a freeze just as you would any other plant in need. If your tree or shrub was damaged severely by the elements such as ice, it may be necessary to take more drastic measures with recovery and be safer to call in a certified North Texas arborist to handle it. Always remember TreeNewal is here whenever you need us!

If you need help with recovering your trees after a freeze, get in touch with the ISA-certified arborists at TreeNewal and enjoy tailored tree care advice.


To learn more about First Aid for Saving Your Plants and Trees After a Freeze, call our Argyle and Southlake-based teams

at tel:(817) 592-6846 or send us a message.

We’re a little different than the average tree services company.

Learn more about TreeNewal’s ISA Certified Arborists!

Our Dallas/Fort Worth-based tree doctors can explain how sustainable tree care services add more value to your bottom line.

Healthy trees, healthy lives.