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Of plants, to die in a manner that retreats inward, leaving only the stems or roots. My plants died back after that period of unseasonably cold weather.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
[for vegetation] to die back to the stems or roots. The hedge died back in the winter but regenerated leaves in the spring. This kind of grass dies back every year.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
To be affected by the gradual dying of plant shoots, starting at the tips and working back, as a result of weather conditions, natural growth cycle, or disease: Aerate the soil weekly when the flowers bloom and until they die back.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.