San Antonio nurseries prepared for the winter storm, and it resulted in minimal damage for some

SAN ANTONIO – Nursery owners across the San Antonio area spent the weekend assessing their losses from last week’s winter storms and gearing up for their busy season.

Daniel Keith with Rainbow Gardens on Bandera Road says he’s still trying to gauge how much his business lost due to the storms. He said it could be several weeks before some of the merchandise begins to sprout -- or not -- for the spring season.

“It could have been much, much worse. We feel very lucky. We worked very hard over two days to either cover stuff with a cloth or put it in warm spaces,” Keith said.

He says every greenhouse, building tent and part of the store was filled with plants, shrubs and trees. He used propane heaters to keep them warm.

“The propane heaters don’t work without electricity, and we lost power several times. That actually helped us conserve propane,” Keith said.

The temperatures varied between 39 and 62 degrees, he said.

“If it got any colder than that, we would have seen losses in the tropical stuff in the greenhouses,” Keith said.

At Shades of Green, Bob Webster says he executed a similar plan. He said one of his new greenhouses is exceptionally well insulated, and it was very energy efficient and paid off this go around.

“The one time when CPS Energy left us without power for about 18 hours, some of the things close to the greenhouse walls, they got a little bit of severe damage and had to be discarded,” Webster said.

He estimates about $1,000 in damage, but that’s not much compared to the thousands of dollars of merchandise he saved.

Webster is checking with their suppliers to see how they fared. He says they’re also still assessing the damage.

Webster said customers might pay more for some items that nurseries have to bring in from further away.

“I want to make it very clear that none of the nurserymen that I know will be jacking their prices up just to take advantage of the situation,” Webster said. “But some prices will be higher because a lot of us will have to import plants from much further away. And of course, with the cost of diesel and transportation these days, that always raises the price of it.”

The nurseries have also been fielding calls from customers asking for advice on their gardens after the freeze.

Keith said many citrus trees aren’t coming back if you didn’t protect them before the winter storm. You’ll see signs within two to three weeks, he said.

With warmer weather and rain in the forecast, things will start waking up. “Most of your perennials may, or will, come back. Probably all need to be cut to the ground, and now’s a good time to do that. But for trees and evergreen shrub, that’s what we really want to wait and see,” Keith said.

Webster says to expect to see smaller plants and some that will be difficult to locate at nurseries.

“When it comes to moving around big trees and things like that, I suspect those will be in very short supply. I suspect that things like Sago palms, which have taken a big hit. By the way, most of them will come out of there properly cared for,” Webster said. “But there will be a bit of material that is a little bit harder to locate. But I think, more than anything else, people are going to find that they will have to settle for smaller plants and be a little bit more patient, allowing them to grow.”

The nurserymen urge buyers to be cautious as some plants, trees or shrubs may take several months to show their damage. They recommend asking a lot of questions and buying from reputable nurseries.

About the Authors

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

Before starting KSAT in 2017, Lee was a photojournalist at KENS 5, where he won a Lone Star Emmy in 2014 for Best Weather Segment. In 2009 and 2010 Lee garnered first-place awards with the Texas Association of Broadcasters for Best Investigative Series in College Station, as well as winning first place for Staff Photojournalism in 2011 at KBTX.

Recommended Videos