Tips for Saving Plants That Have Wilted in Cold Weather

Most sensitive plants can get damaged when left exposed to mild or deep winter weather. The good news is that plants exposed to cold temperatures can be revived again when the right measures are used. Here are several things that you can do to save your wilted plants. 

Bring the Plant Indoors

If possible, bring the cold-damaged plant indoors to expose them to a warmer temperature. Place the potted plants in a good spot with indirect light like in an enclosed garage or a basement with windows. 

Exposure to a warmer temperature will facilitate speed recovery. However, you should avoid placing it in direct sunshine or on a heating element or radiator.


Low temperatures can dry out the soil and draw water from the leaves. To prevent dehydration and damage from frost, you need to rehydrate the plants with about an inch of water. Watering helps to defrost the soil and ensure an adequate amount of moisture. Once the recovery process starts, water the plant normally.

Wait Before Applying Fertilizer

After a freeze, you may want to add fertilizer to enable your plants to recover quickly. This is, however, not a good idea as it can encourage new growth for your damaged plant.

Instead, wait until the frost is over and apply fertilizer to help with a speedy recovery. Waiting before adding fertilizer also promotes room for the plant to gain new strength in recovery.


It is not recommended to prune the dead foliage of your cold-damaged plant since the damaged stems and leaves offer protection for the damaged plant.

Wait for spring or until the plant gets warm before you can remove the damaged areas. For dead stems, prune all the way back.

Waiting before pruning will basically encourage new growth, making it easier to determine where to prune. To access the damage to woody plants like lavender and rosemary, scratch the bark and examine the color. 

Keep in mind that a live plant will be green while a cold-damaged plant will be black or brown. In this case, water the plant and clean up the dead leaves. 

How to Protect Your Plants from a Cold Snap

Grow Native Plants

Unlike non-native plants, native plants can grow well in cold-weather areas. 

Cover the Plants

If the temperatures are likely to drop, use a sheet, burlap, or plant cover to shield your plants. Cover overnight and remove in the morning.

Bring Them Indoors

Make plans to bring cold-sensitive plants indoors if you predict a frost. You can also place them against the house or garage wall to protect them from the wind. 

Spray with Water

Cold wind and frost draw moisture from the leaves, leaving the plant dehydrated. You can avoid this by spraying your plants with water before the expected frost.

Brenda Klaus

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