Ask Burton: Q: I have loropetalum (Chinese fringeflower) newly planted in front of my house, and the cold burned some of the newest growth this winter and made them thin. How do I help the plants do better?

A: This winter affected many plantings of loropetalum and ligustrum, far more than normal for our average winter. The plants were hurt; but unless they’re completely destroyed, probably fixable when you follow these tips:

  1. Trim back all the way around the affected plants to remove burned foliage there (just a little bit; you’re looking to remove burned tips, not drastically cut the plant back, perhaps two inches)
  2. Fertilize all beds with our Covington’s Tree & Shrub 12-6-6. Unless the plants were iced over (by a sprinkler system, or if your area caught rain at exactly the wrong time), that will probably be enough to fix most beds of these shrubs.
  3. Additionally, both loropetalum and the popular ‘Sunshine’ ligustrum really appreciate soil acidification; regular applications of iron and sulfur will help keep them in proper color and health.

Since your plants are currently damaged, please give them everything they need to improve.  It should help!