Preserving evergreens during the winter
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URBANA -- Just finished
putting the finishing touches in your landscape? The new spruces,
pines, yews, arborvitae or junipers look great. They make a nice
screen, windbreak or specimen plant. The color is just right. Now
the question is: Will they stay looking good? Will they survive the
James Schuster, a University of
Illinois Extension horticulture educator based in Cook County, has a
few helpful hints.
"Winter can be harsh," he said. "Long
cold periods with drying winds can help dehydrate the new plants.
Plants in newly built subdivisions are even more prone to being
dehydrated through the winter than those planted in neighborhoods
with many mature plants. Since evergreens, both needle and
broadleaf, maintain live foliage through the winter, the foliage
continues to lose moisture even when frozen. If the water loss is
too great, the needles or leaves will turn brown as they dehydrate
Schuster said there are several
possible cultural practices that can be tried.
"First make sure there is plenty of
soil moisture before the ground freezes," he said. "If there has not
been sufficient rain, water. Water the planting hole as well as a
couple of feet of the surrounding soil. Avoid overwatering.
Overwatering can drown tree roots, adding to winter kill."
Consideration should also be given to
applying an antidesiccant spray.
"Make sure to read the label," he said.
"Use the winter label rate at the recommended temperature. These
products vary in their longevity and effectiveness on the plants.
Usually a second and sometimes a third application later in the
winter are required. These products when applied correctly can
sometimes make the difference on plant survival as well as
appearance the following spring. Do not apply the winter rate till
the plants are dormant."
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Another way to reduce dehydration is
make a screen to partially block the wind. Use sturdy stakes that
are a couple of feet longer than the plant is high. Place the stakes
in the ground before the ground begins to freeze.
"How many stakes depends on whether you
want a ‘V’-shaped screen or a flat screen, as well as how many
evergreens were planted," said Schuster. "Once the ground begins to
freeze, nail, staple or tie a material like burlap, cheeseclothlike
material or even snow fencing to the stakes. If using the ‘V’-shaped
screen around an individual plant, the bottom of the "V" stake is
directly west of the plant. The other two stakes are to the
southeast and to the northeast of the plant. The entire east side of
the plant is left open."
Schuster cautioned against completely
wrapping the plant with the protective material. This barrier is to
reduce the flow of wind through and around the evergreen. It is not
supposed to stop the wind entirely. You need to make sure light
reaches all of the plant; therefore, do not situate the screen so
that it touches the plant.
[University of Illinois news