Shrubs looking rough? K-State says “Be patient”

Bushes And Shrubs

ERIE, Kan. – The greenery in our area isn’t looking very green right now, and last month’s winter storm could be to blame.

Krista Harding, a Horticulture Agent with the K-State Southwind Extension District, says outdoor shrubs and bushes could experience winter kill. That’s what happens when cold temperatures damage plants so much that they don’t grow back — or only a part of the plant grows back.

“On our evergreen species, many of them may already be exhibiting those symptoms of browning on the leaf edges or the leaf tips. That’s a sign of scorch or winter injury. If you do see that and it’s not very severe, certain species you’re able to prune that out. If there’s considerable damage, then at that point in time, that’s gonna be a candidate for removal and replacement,” explains Harding. “You know, some of the plants that we gravitate towards planting in our area really aren’t well suited for our area. And so they’re marginal to begin with, and then when you add the cold temperatures onto it, it just makes for a bad situation all the way around.”

But — Harding says that now isn’t the time to panic. She recommends waiting until May to make a final decision, since many plants may still be dormant.

“So, it’s still a little bit too early to make that call at this point. We need plants to begin to green up. And really, by about the middle of May we should be able to determine the extent of the damage at that point,” says Harding. “Going forward, if they do have species that have sustained some injury, they really need to think about what type of species they planted and make sure that whatever they do have in their landscape that it’s suited for our area.”

If you end up needing to replace plants that are damaged, K-State has recommendations on what species are the best for our area.

Deciduous shrubs: https://bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF3116.pdf

Evergreen shrubs: https://bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF3117.pdf