The winter of 2013-14 has shown more snow and freezing temperatures than we have seen since 2010. Last February we saw 16 days out of 28 above the 44 degree daily average temperature and a whopping ½ inch of snow throughout the month. In 2014 we struggled to hit 9 days above average, including 10 days temperatures were not above freezing and over 20 inches of snow. This spring we are going to see the landscape react differently then we have seen since 2010. The evergreen plants that we have surrounding our homes are going to look a lot more stressed especially for any new planting that happened in the fall of 2013. Most of the evergreens we have around us will be experiencing different levels of Winter Burn.
Winter burn, or desiccation, is a common occurrence in evergreen trees and shrubs (Boxwood, Cherry Laurel, Pines, Rhododendron, and Spruce) when the winter freezing temperatures and blowing winds affect transpiration, the process of plants evaporating water into the atmosphere from its leaves and stems. When plants are unable to get the water they need because of these winter conditions, the water lost through transpiration cannot be replenished, resulting in foliar damage, dehydration, and in severe cases death. These symptoms will first appear in late winter when the Sun’s rays start being more intense and the soil is still frozen.
If nothing has been done to protect your trees and shrubs to this point, some of the preventive measures will be ineffective. The initial and most important step is to install plant material in the proper location to protect them from harsh winter winds. Secondly, remember to deeply water plants through late fall. Commercial anti-desiccant products, like Wilt-Pruf, can be sprayed on the foliage of plants in late fall to help prevent desiccation. Create a barrier to protect the plants from winds and sun. Please understand winter temperatures and conditions will vary and in severe conditions, such as the ones we are currently experiencing, these precautionary measures may prove to be only partially effective.
If your plants are damaged by Winter Burn wait until new growth appears before pruning out damaged areas. Often times the new growth will cover up dead areas without the need for pruning. If dehydration has been too sever for the plant there is a chance it will die. Call Pinehurst today to give you an evaluation of your garden to take the proper course of action.