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Protect Your Shrubs & Trees From Winter’s Savage Wind

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Now that we’ve had our first taste of winter, it’s time to think about protecting your woody plants from winter damage. When winter winds blow air over the leaf or needle surface, it pulls moisture out at a time when the roots are incapable of replacing it because the soil is frozen. This dries out or “desiccates” the leaves or needles causing damage.

Anti-desicaants such as Bonide’s Wilt Stop help to lock in that moisture that might otherwise be removed from evergreens during our harsh winter months. They should be applied to broad-leaf evergreens such as azalea, boxwood, holly and rhododendron once they have gone dormant. The optimal time is late November/early December on days where the temperature will remain above freezing to allow the spray to dry.  Since plants lose water from both the top and bottom of their leaves, you will need to make sure you completely coat all surfaces to assure they are protected. It is important not to spray conifers (needled or scaled plants) too early because their tissues have not achieved dormancy.  Applying too early can result in water becoming trapped.  Excessive moisture expands when freezing, rupturing plant cells. Wait until the plant has been exposed to a week of below freezing nighttime temperatures.

It’s important not to spray waxy-blue conifers such as blue spruce – they already have a natural coating that you don’t want to damage.

Burlap stretched between vertical stakes to form wind brakes and /or wrapped around shrubs, along with anti-desiccant spraying can protect plants in severe wind locations such as near the lake. Tree wrap applied to younger, thin barked trees, will help prevent vertical winter cracking of trunks.

Truly an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to protecting your ornamental shrubs and trees. Stop by Van Putte Gardens and we’ll help you select the things you’ll need to protect your valuable landscape plants this winter season.

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