There is plenty to prune at the San Antonio Botanical Garden after the severe winter frost


SAN ANTONIO – Pickup and dining continues in many parts of San Antonio after freezing temperatures last week. Some of the most visibly affected areas include the San Antonio Botanical Garden, where plants, flowers, and even trees have suffered greatly from the cold.

Employees like Scott Litchke, associate director of gardens and conservatory, worked around the clock, some even sleeping in the garden during the frost, to make sure that life blossoms again.

“Everyone said it was going to happen,” Litchke said. “We didn’t know how this was going to impact us until it really hit.”

The lush landscapes turned white and froze what lay below.

“Some cacti, like agave and other succulents, have been hit hard,” Litchke said. “We have never lost agave and we have never lost a prickly pear. This is the first year that this has happened.

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Litchke has worked with the garden for almost 30 years.

“I’ve seen a lot of freezes, but no, nothing at this point,” he said.

Litchke and his team have done everything to save plant life which brings joy and peace to visitors all year round.

“Our greenhouses, our conservatories all have to stay at an optimum temperature for some of these plants (to survive),” Litchke said. “Some of us had to spend the night here to make sure we didn’t have a power outage.”

As the snow finally began to melt, they discovered broken water pipes and the growth of now limp and even deformed plants, trees and flowers.

“This prickly pear is mushy and needs to be cut to the ground,” Litchke said.

Doughy plants should be cut down to the base to allow new growth. (Copyright 2021 by KSAT – All rights reserved.)

Litchke said if you look a little closer you will notice that there is still hope and life for many plants.

“If you just wanted to scratch lightly with your mower or knife, you’ll see that green over there. It’s a perfect plant there.

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Experts advise performing a scratch test on the branches with a trimmer or knife to determine if they are still healthy. If the color is green, it means the plant is alive. (Copyright 2021 by KSAT – All rights reserved.)

Popular ornamental grass for landscapes still has a second chance, according to Litchke.

“You want to cut (the ornamental grass) into shape,” Litchke said. “So (the ornamental grass) ends up being a round ball with a flat top on top.”

In the spring, staff at the San Antonio Botanical Garden said they were confident things would bloom again, but green hands and thumbs are now needed more than ever.

“We could definitely use a few hands here to help us clean up all the things we’re downsizing,” Litchke said. “We’re going to mulch again, getting ready for spring. Becoming a member is very useful. Your contributions go to the garden and that will help us a lot.

San Antonio Botanical Gardene employees work tirelessly to save plant life which brings joy and peace to visitors throughout the year. (Copyright 2021 by KSAT – All rights reserved.)

Interested persons should first submit an online application before registering for volunteer opportunities.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities with the San Antonio Botanical Garden, click here.

Copyright 2021 by KSAT – All rights reserved.

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