Coldest stretch of days for us in the last 50 years!!! Wow that was cold! As you get out an about in your yard, your plants will tell you how cold it was. A lot of tropical and annual plants will have some cold damage. It is those dark brown mushy leaves. Do you remove them or leave them? Do I cut back the plant or leave it? Well most tropical plants will not make it after that cold spell, but if you have hope then leave them alone. The dead plant tissue will actually insulate the rest of the plant. If the unsightly mess is too much to look at, then clean up the dead leaves and add mulch. The mulch will insulate the rest of the plant for the remainder of the winter.
As far as what to cut back and when... I always like Mother Nature to tell me. When the plants start leafing back out, they will tell you what died and what is still good. Another way to tell is to scratch the bark. If it is bright green underneath, then it is alive. If it is brown, then it died up to that point. Test all the way down the branch… if you find no green, then it has been damaged to the ground. Keep in mind that dead tissue at the end of the branches acts as insulation against further freezes, so do not be in a rush to cut back damaged plants.
We have had a good taste of winter so far… I cannot wait for the spring flush and the flowers that will come!