NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Last December’s flash freeze may be just a memory now, but for many of your plants, it had a lasting effect. Temperatures dropped over 50 degrees in just a matter of hours, bottoming out below zero in many areas.

As a result, you can see brown shrubs and bushes all over Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky.

Experts said to wait until the warm weather before you give up on them. So, what’s the verdict now?

Austin Lohin is a horticulturist at Bates Nursery in Nashville. He said to look for signs of life at the base of the plant.

“A lot of these plants are beginning to wake back up,” Lohin remarked. “And a lot of them are coming back up from the ground and not from the old stems at all. So, what we are seeing is a lot of die-back on the stems that are not returning, and green leaves are not coming back from those stems, but what we are seeing is a lot of growth coming from the base.”

Bates Nursery Horticulturist Austin Lohin shows what to look for (Photo: WKRN)

Lohin showed News 2 a damaged Aucuba plant as an example:

“This one here lost all of its leaves, obviously, and you can see all the old dead sticks,” Lohin pointed out. “And you can see these. They really look brown. They don’t look great. They’re off-color. I can tell this plant is probably not going to come back from the stems, but what we’ve been waiting for is this new leaf emergence. This is all the variegated leaf that aucuba gives, and it is coming from the ground, so this is a good sign. This is, like I said, what we’ve been waiting to see. We know this plant is not dead; it just simply took a hit. So, it’s now starting to come back from the ground. What we can go ahead and do is go in with our pruners and take this all the way back. Cut these sticks all the way above this foliage, and let this new growth form.”

Lohin said that after pruning the plant, you will be amazed at how fast it will begin to grow back.

So when do you give up on a brown plant?

With the warm weather we now have and are forecasting to continue, if your plant still has no green at the bottom, you should give it two more weeks, and then if you don’t see any signs of life, it’s time to pull it up.