February’s freeze led to a surprisingly vibrant spring bloom

Left for dead, plant life has exploded with growth, color, and coverage

In the comeback story of the year, area plants have rebounded from a record freeze to produce one of the best spring blooms in recent memory.

It’s been four months since San Antonio was transformed into a once-in-a-lifetime arctic tundra. Our gardens and plants were hit hard. Many shriveled up, some died.

”It looked like we were really devastated and some things did take a pretty hard hit,” said Scott Litchke, Associate Director of Gardens and Conservatories at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens.

But, in what may be one of the comeback stories of the year, spring has brought an explosion of color, growth, and recovery that is surprising just about everyone. The plants appear to be living by the mantra ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’

”I’ve been here 30 years and I’ve never seen the garden look this amazing,” added Litchke.

Blooming plants at San Antonio Botanical Gardens (Copyright 2021 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

”Some things like a little tough love,” said Liz Campanella, owner of Uprooted Gardens. “Having chill hours is actually a good thing for a lot of plants.”

Still, this kind of cold was uncharted territory for South Texas.

”It’s been a fun experiment to as a gardener come out and see what has survived. What are the superstars,” Campanella added.

According to Campanella, that list is surprisingly long. Plants like roses and firecracker bushes are really showing right now.

Firecracker bushes are showing more than ever this spring (Copyright 2021 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

”I’ve been really impressed with the Esperanzas too,” said Campanella.

The freeze, however, is just part of the equation. The impressive resurgence is a culmination of well-timed weather events.

”After it warmed up, we got these spring rains and things just exploded,” explained Litchke.

The patience preached by experts paid off. But, all of this growth and color could be fleeting. Root systems that withstood a load of stress in February will now have to face a hot summer.

”Mulch goes a very long way in our Texas heat,” explained Campanella. “So, giving it that little bit of insulation, at least two to three inches of mulch, is really going to keep that root temperature down.”

About the Author:

Justin Horne is a meteorologist and reporter for KSAT 12 News. When severe weather rolls through, Justin will hop in the KSAT 12 Storm Chaser to safely bring you the latest weather conditions from across South Texas. On top of delivering an accurate forecast, Justin often reports on one of his favorite topics: Texas history.