Frozen Leaf Removal
Location: Outside U.S.
My split leaf philodendrun froze and the outer leaves turned black. My landlord says that
I should remove them because the plant will kill itself trying to keep them alive. All the gardening
sites on the net agree with him but this make no sense: plants don't push nutrients to leaves--leaves
pull them up the stock via capillary action and transpiration. If the leaf is dead there will be no pulling.
I am proposing to leave the dead leaves in place until danger of frost is gone to protect the lower leaves.
Is this story about plants expending energy on dead leaves true? It makes no sense when you think of
how a leaf works.
Black leaves are dead since they can no longer photosynthesize. They should be removed (pruned) to
allow in more light to the green parts of the plant, and to minimize the presence of fungi on the leaves,
which would act to decompose the dead leaf material.
Anthony R. Brach, PhD
Missouri Botanical Garden c/o Harvard University Herbaria
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Update: June 2012