How to Prune Frost Damaged Plants in Florida


Much of the typical Florida landscape is tropical in nature and is devastated by a hard freeze. The immediate temptation is to prune away the damage and replace plants that appear dead. Patience is required in dealing with Florida freeze damage. Some freeze-damaged plants will take longer to rebound in the spring, so give them time. By late spring, new growth will appear and dead wood can be easily identified by its lack of new growth and brown interior.

Step 1

Remove any fruit that remains on the tree immediately following a freeze. Fruiting takes energy that the tree needs to recover.

Step 2

Remove dead leaves that have turned completely brown after the freeze. Any leaves that contain any green should be left until spring. Remove limp, soggy leaves with a water-soaked appearance on bananas and other tropical trees.

Step 3

Remove broken branches back to a main junction or to the trunk. Use a hand saw to cut the branch cleanly just above the branch collar.

Step 4

Wait until new buds appear before pruning away remaining branches. Find the junction between dead wood and live wood, indicated by the appearance of a new bud. A light scrape of a knife reveals live green tissue or the brown or black appearance of dead wood.

Step 5

Cut away dead wood just above an outward-facing bud. If there is no bud, prune back to the trunk or a major branch. Make a clean cut parallel to the bud in healthy wood, removing only the dead wood. Now is not the time for shaping or pruning healthy wood; leave it to help the plant recover.

Step 6

Remove suckers and branches developing from the roots of grafted plants. Suckers growing from the rootstock will not produce the desired variety of fruit or flower. Dig down to the root and cut the sucker away at the root.

Step 7

Replace grafted plants that have no live wood above the graft.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Hand saw


  • University of Florida Extension: Dealing with Frost damage
  • University of Kentucky College of Agriculture: Freeze Damage What Now?
Keywords: Florida freeze damage, Pruning freeze damage, prune frost damage

About this Author

Diane Watkins has been writing since 1984, with experience in newspaper, newsletter and web content. She writes two electronic newsletters and content around the web. Watkins has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Clemson University. She has taken graduate courses in biochemistry and education.