NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Azalea season is highly anticipated in Nacogdoches. This year, city officials tell us many plants were damaged by the winter storm in February.
David Creech, the director of the Stephen F. Austin State University Gardens, said out of 7,000 plants, they have about 550 varieties of azaleas across the three gardens near the campus. The winter storm affected them all.
“We have come out of it, but we have quite a bit of damage. As a scientist, I kind of enjoy going through and evaluating plants. I am working with A&M on that. I have been trying to look at which ones froze to the ground and which ones did not,” Creech explained.
Creech said the Girard azaleas were tough enough to sustain the cold weather.
“It probably will not be the best show that we have ever had because we’re missing some varieties that just didn’t perform well,” Creech said. “But the garden is packed with all kinds of other plants. There is no prettier small tree than Japanese maples and they were totally unaffected. We have sweet olives. We have a wonderful collection of camellias that should be some of the late bloomers that will be coming on.”
Plant lovers should be patient this season. Creech advices people to wait until April or the middle of May to check on plant conditions.
“It may be dead on the top, and you can rejuvenate it by trying to push new growth from the base of the plant,” Creech said.
Most of the azaleas have survived and will look healthier by mid-April. Nacogdoches Convention and Visitor’s Bureau executive director Sherry Chaney-Morgan said the azalea trail around town was affected by the winter storm as well.
“We honestly started to get phone calls back in January in anticipation of our annual azalea trail. It is the busiest time of our tourism year,” Morgan said. “We did have to push this season back a little bit. We usually start in mid-March, which would have been last week. So, we are just now starting to unroll those activities.”
Although azaleas are at the forefront, there are other plant options.
Morgan said the state legislature named Nacogdoches the garden capital of Texas for a reason.
“Sustaining through the pandemic, we have really maintained a fairly strong and swift day traffic of visitors that have come through,” Morgan added.
Creech said Indica Azalea are usually evergreen. After the winter storm, most of them survived with only a few battered leaves.