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Some areas got as much as 5 inches of snow in the recent deluge. Take care before pruning plants, trees and shrubs.

Temperatures are well above freezing now, so it's safe to put back outdoors any potted plants you brought in to protect them from the cold.

Of course, if another freeze is predicted, you will need to bring these plants back inside. Potted plants do not mind being brought in and out as the weather dictates.

Now, for those outdoor trees and plants.

Before pruning any freeze-damaged plants, make a distinction between herbaceous perennials and woody tropicals. Be sure to wait at least a week or more after a freeze to begin pruning herbaceous or nonwoody tropicals, such as cannas, elephant ears, birds-of-paradise, begonias, gingers or philodendrons. If these plants have dead foliage, you may prune to the living area. Keep in mind this kind of pruning is simply to clean up the look of the garden.

If you decide to not prune dead foliage after a freeze, then be sure to add this task to your spring cleanup list. These herbaceous perennials should have their dead parts removed after danger of the last freeze or before they begin to make substantial new growth.

It is generally a good idea to delay pruning woody tropical plants, such as hibiscus, tibouchina, angel trumpet, croton, ixora or schefflera, until new growth begins to emerge in spring. That allows you to more accurately determine the living and dead material. If any of these plants or other woody tropicals have dead leaves lingering after a freeze, there is no problem with removing them.

If your tropical plants survived this freeze fairly unscathed, you may want to consider taking additional precautions now rather than the night of the next freeze. Be sure all tender garden material is well mulched and irrigated before any freeze.

Now is also a good time to stock up on winter frost cloth. Old bedsheets work just fine, but local nurseries sell a product designed to help keep the plants slightly warmer than what an old bedsheet can do.

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