Freeze Fate - February 2021
Just how tender is tender?
In my five years of gardening in Houston's gulf coast climate, our garden
has endured two significant freezing episodes. In January 2018, the temperature
dipped to about 15°F for a few hours, with freezing rain to compound the
damage. Then in February 2021, winter storm Uri swept through the state and
produced temperatures as low as 12°F, this time lasting for a good five
days. The freeze of 2018 was noted at the time as the most severe one in recent
times, while Uri produced conditions not seen around here in over a century.
In most other winters, freezes are much milder, with temperatures not dipping
below the mid-twenties and lows only held for a few hours overnight.
Since most Houston-area gardens are decked out in plants native to
subtropical and tropical climates, those severe freezes can inflict some
serious damage. Following the 2018 freeze, I kept track of which plants
made it through (using the icon on my plant
portrait pages), and in the aftermath of the 2021 event, I noted both which
plants did and didn't make it. Lists of these plants organized by
whether they survived one or both of the freezes are on the page below.
Hopefully they can help fellow and future gulf coast gardeners curious about
pushing hardiness zones in our climate.
For the most part, I didn't mark up
plant species that I would expect to be fully hardy even in these freezes
– that typically means those with lower hardiness zone ratings of 7 or
below), although you'll find a few exceptions in the lists below. Note that
I count a plant as having survived a freeze if at least one of the plants in
my garden survived; seedlings popping up after the freeze don't count, but
regrowth from the roots after all of the top growth was killed does. For
example, all above-ground parts of our lemon eucalyptus, a 30-foot-tall
tree, were killed in the 2021 freeze, but new growth came back near the trunk
a couple months later. I wouldn't call the tree hardy (most gardeners wouldn't
want to lose their tree every few years, even if it eventually grows back),
yet for the purposes of this page, it's in the survivor list. For many plants,
you can find more information about how it fared in the freezes on the portrait
page; if no information is provided, chances are the plant sailed through the
freeze without much trouble.
The lists below are sorted in order of botanical name. Click on the plant's
name to go to page for that plant. Plant portraits (where I have photos on the
page) are indicated with the symbol.
Plants that survived 2018 but not 2021
All other plants that did not survive 2021
Plants that survived 2021
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April 24, 2021