Here’s how to spot cold weather damage, plus spring planting tips


How did your plants do this extra cold winter? (Image Credit: Bennett Nurseries,

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - It's been a long, cold winter in the Tennessee Valley and you're not alone if you're looking at the brown, brittle leaves of plants in your yard and thinking, "Uh oh!"

Don't rip up those sad looking plants just yet though. They might not be dead. How can you tell for sure? WHNT News 19 asked the experts at Huntsville's Bennett Nurseries.

First thing's first. It's important to acknowledge that yes, the winter of 2013-2014 was really pretty awful. Even some plants in expert care, on nusery grounds, were harmed.

"A lot of things that haven't frozen for the last 10-15 years were damaged," said George Bennett of Bennett Nurseries.

Here's how to tell if your plants are dead or just damaged: Make a small scratch at the base of the plant, close to the root, then look for green on the stem. Green means alive. You might check a couple of spots to make sure there are no signs of life.

It may take longer than usual for a cold-damaged plant to come back to full health but resist the urge to load up on fertiliziers. They'll probably do more harm then good and waste your money.

"When you fertilize a plant, you're putting a load on it," Bennett explained, "You're making it have to grow and the plant may not be ready to grow yet."

When it comes to putting in new plants, especially vegetables, it's all about timing. It's too late for most lettuces to grow from seed but you could still get away with putting a more established plant in the ground.

Tomatoes can go in now (just be prepared for a late-season frost) as well as many other items. Hot peppers can wait until June and you won't miss out on any real growing time.

Remember too, the smaller the plant the more you'll need to baby it! As we warm up, give your greenery lots and lots of water. (Just don't flood them.)

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