Protect Landscape Plants from Winter Injury
This article was originally published on December 26, 2012 and expired on February 26, 2013. It is provided here for archival purposes and may contain dated information.
Wind, sun and freezing temperatures take a toll on landscaping plants
through the winter. Signs of winter injury include discolored cankers or
sunscald on exposed limbs or at the trunk base, damage to the taproot and side
roots and injury to leaf and flower buds. In some cases, homeowners will see
blackened sapwood and death of the entire plant.
Frost cracks are the most common signs of winter injury. Frost cracks are
vertical separations of bark and wood on the south or southwest sides of a
trunk. The cracks may extend to the center of a tree and cause it to break
apart under the weight of snow or ice.
Young, thin-barked trees can be protected from frost cracks by wrapping the
trunks with sisal-kraft paper, strips of burlap or aluminum foil. A coat of
whitewash or a 6-inch board tied upright on the south-southwest side of the
trunk can also work.
Trees subject to frost crack, if planted in exposed locations, include
apple, ash, beech, elm, horsechestnut, linden, London plane, maple, oak, poplar,
sycamore, tulip tree, walnut and willow.
Boxwood, junipers, yews and other multiple-stemmed evergreens that tend to
develop frost cracks can spread, split apart and break under a load of ice or
snow. Protect these trees by tying the branches together with strong cord.
Some plants, such as evergreens, should be protected from winter sun and
drying winds. Barriers made of canvas, plastic, cheesecloth, burlap or slat
screens placed two feet away on the south or southwest sides are effective
screens. Put 2 to 6 inches of organic mulch over evergreen roots, around roses
and over fruit tree roots to prevent deep freezing. The mulch also protects
against alternate thawing and freezing which can shear off feeder roots.
Several products are available to protect broadleaf and other evergreens
from winter leaf burn. These include a "no wilt" latex and plastic
anti-transparent sprays. These products should be applied to foliage in late
fall and again during mid-winter when the temperature is above 40 F.
Source: David J. Robson, Extension Specialist, PSEP, firstname.lastname@example.org
Pull date: February 26, 2013