Although not common in Atlanta, vertical frost cracks on the trunks of woody plants can occur in sections of the state when plants are exposed to extremely cold temperatures. A frost crack is a long, deep, narrow crevice running up and down the trunk of a tree. As temperatures cool down, the temperature of the trunk drops quickly and the trunk contracts and may split.
Crabapple LandscapExperts will not rush to prune or remove your damaged plants, because while some plants will look bad, they are not really dead. We wait until the full extent of the damage can be determined to start our corrective pruning.
Flower damage is immediately visible, but doesn’t threaten the plants. Foliage and shoot damage is noticeable within a few days, but it may be a month before all the damage can be ascertained. We scratch the brown outer bark to see if the cambium layer beneath (greenwood) is still green, toggle leaf buds, and watch for live green foliage to emerge. Once the damage has been determined, we will prune to eliminate any damaged parts.
Late-winter pruning is best. P. Allen Smith lists 3 benefits: late-winter pruning invigorates the plants for abundant growth when Spring does arrive; the wounds are exposed for only a limited time before new growth begins; and it is easiest to see what exactly needs to be pruned before there are leaves on the shrubs and trees.
Trees known as “Bleeding Trees” produce a large run of sap in late winter, and are best pruned later in the summer. Some of these include maples (well-known Sugar Maple), dogwoods, birches and elms.
And for a great specialty video on pruning tree peonies, watch Felix with Gurney’s.
Camellia photos thanks to Geri Laufer (white = Shiro Chan C. japonica, red = Bob Hope C. japonica, Cold Damaged Nuccios Pearl C. japonica)
magnolia photo thanks to NeglectedBeauty.blogspot.com