How can I tell if a shrub is dead or just out of season?

There is a shrub in front of my house that appears dead but it could just be out of season. Before I pull it up I want to be sure. also, there appears to be some stringy flowers growing on the steams.What does this mean?
Submitted by atiffan2

Hi,

 

Thanks for writing. One test you can try is to gently scratch a stem with your fingernail; if the branch is green just beneath the bark, it's probably still alive. If it's brown and very dry, then that branch is probably dead.

 

I'd wait another few weeks before you pull it out, just in case it is alive. Plants may be slow to wake up in spring if they've been stressed or damaged during the winter.

 

---Justin, Senior Garden Editor, BHG.com


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