Patience is a virtue when dealing with frozen plants

Q: What should I do or not do since the recent freeze? I took a walk around my garden and it looks terrible. Margee Beatie, Marietta

A: The best thing to do is wait a bit to see what was actually damaged. Wax myrtle leaves may look brown and dry, but they will soon drop off and be replaced by new leaves. Some shrubs and small trees might have just the tips of the branches killed. Some members of the same plant family may differ in their cold response. My ‘Soft Caress’ mahonia looks horrible, but its cousin leatherleaf mahonia suffered not a bit. You won’t know what to do with a lot of plants until April. Some of your nonwoody plants may be frozen to the ground but will sprout from the roots when warm weather returns.

Q: I am interested in having some fruit trees planted. Do you do home visits? Is there anyone in the industry you’d recommend? Cory Levinson, Chamblee

A: I don’t do home visits anymore, but I’m not sure I’d even be the best choice. This is a slow time of year for many landscaping companies. Ask your neighbors or use an online neighborhood group such as NextDoor to get names of some smaller landscaping companies that are active in your area. I recommend talking to the smaller companies first because you are more likely to speak with the owner when you call than you would at a large firm. Ask whether they have employees who need a little extra cash and who are knowledgeable enough to answer your questions and do the planting.

Q: We have a Confederate rose that we planted years ago in the corner of a raised brick planter. It is now huge. I would like to remove it, but it’s so large I will have to break up the root ball to get it out to replant. Stephanie Linz-Gould, email

A: Confederate rose grows so vigorously that it can recover from almost any damage. Most of the top limbs are dead from freezing weather, so you can cut it down to 2 feet in height now. I am concerned that the roots have invaded the bricks in the planter and will damage it severely when the plant is pulled up. Get an inexpensive carpenter’s saw and saw between the bricks and the root ball, severing any connection between plant and planter. You can then dig out the roots with a shovel. Even if the root mass breaks apart, you can replant any piece that retains a few roots. It will likely sprout into a new plant when spring arrives.

Email Walter at Listen to his occasional garden comments on “Green and Growing with Ashley Frasca” Saturday mornings on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website,, or join his Facebook page at, for his latest tips.