How to help plants recover from snow

Ask City Hall

Like many New Westers, all of the plants in my yard have been crushed under a blanket of snow and frozen in place for the past few weeks. My cedar hedge is all bent and folded out.

- New West resident


I asked Claude LeDoux, the city’s horticultural manager, for some advice.

“The snow blanket, as it’s better called, is truly a protective blanket because it insulates the plants. Now, if you are stacking snow on top, heavy wet snow or ice, yes, you can damage plants that way. But if it’s just a regular blanket of snow that’s fallen naturally, then it really acts as an insulator protecting them.

“The plants that are what we call zonal denial, a bit of a tropical-type plant, there is no guarantees on them at all. The really important thing for you to do in that situation is not to cut any plants. Do not prune anything off unless it is broken, or if it was a perennial you knew was just black. Regular shrubs or plants that might – do not cut them. Wait until they start to sprout in the spring and make sure they are alive before you chop anything.

“Hedges, you really should always shake off the snow. Yes, they kind of go floppy, but the trick right now with it being so cold is you shouldn’t mess with them other than to remove the snow. And then if they are not going to stand up once it is warmed up, then you can tie them together, tie them up, and see if that allows themselves to straighten back up.

“You won’t be able to really tell anything until it really warms up. Plants will stay green and look OK and then if they succumb to the cold, freezing or breakage that you didn’t notice then they will die.”

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