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October 15, 2011

Preparing Ornamental Trees & Shrubs for Winter

- by Debra Anchors

Clearly, we can’t control the weather but there are measures we can take that will minimize the effects of a winter freeze and injury to our evergreens and flowering trees:

Provide water to the root zone before the soil freezes; this can be done by giving your trees and shrubs a generous and deep watering before the ground freezes. Rhododendrons and evergreens are especially exposed to dehydration and winter-burn if not well saturated before the icy temperatures and bitter winds set in. Supply mulch to boost moisture retention in the wintry weather.

Pass up early fall fertilization – it promotes and fuels growth too late in the season. Your plants may not harden-off in time for winter.

Prune dead branches and twigs, which can serve as a location for opportunistic pests.
Offer physical shelter from evaporation and drying winds - this is especially important for newly placed plants in uncovered locations. Burlap wraps and sprays of antitranspirants can be used (antitranspirant sprays protect plants from moisture loss due to shipping, transplanting, and extreme weather conditions).

Eliminate suckers around the base of your ornamentals.

Don’t be frightened if you see some browning or yellowing of needles in October and November. It is typical for the oldest growth (the innermost needles) to shed after a few years on evergreen pines.

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