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Erie, PA 16510
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Erie, PA 16510

News & Updates

Winter 2013-2014 Damage
Posted on March 17th, 2014 at 4:54 PM
The 2014 winter season has adversely affected many evergreens and broadleaf evergreens in our area. A combination of below-freezing air and soil temperatures has caused these plants to display symptoms of winter burn.

When soil freezes in winter, plants are not able to uptake water to replace water lost during a process called “transpiration”. This inability to restore water in the plants foliage results in foliar damage, and in some cases, death of the plant.

Both newly planted and established evergreen plants are displaying symptoms, especially plants with shallow root systems. Deciduous plants may also experience dieback, especially early spring bloomers and plants in marginal hardiness areas, but this will not be known until future months.
Damage has been confirmed on, but not limited to, rhododendrons, azaleas, euonymus, boxwood, holly, white pine, Norway spruce, and Dwarf Alberta spruce.

Symptoms: Causes scorching of leaf tips or leaf margins; complete foliar browning; death of terminal buds and/or entire twigs.
Management: Do not take actions until evaluation of growth in the spring. Even though evergreen branches may look dead, live buds may exist that could fill the damaged branch sections. The following are ways to manage winter burn:
• Pruning – If new growth emerges in spring, prune out any dead branches that remain. If new growth does not emerge, prune to a live branch. If new growth doesn't emerge and the entire plant is brown, you have two options:
o Cut the plant off at the base to promote new growth.
o Replace the plant.
• Watering – Healthy plants are less susceptible to problems than unhealthy plants. The key to keeping a plant healthy is to maintain adequate soil moisture. Drought conditions any time of year, either through nature or man, will pre-dispose a plant for winter injury. Water plants throughout dry periods in summer. Watering plants periodically throughout winter, until the ground freezes, is also beneficial.
• Mulching – Keep plants mulched before winter to conserve moisture in the soil. Mulch should be 3 to 4 inches deep in a 3 to 6 ft. ring around the plant. Remember to reduce the mulch to 1 to 2 inches in spring so the plant won’t suffocate.
• Burlap – Plants can be protected from winter winds through burlap screens, although the first line of defense should be maintaining healthy plants.
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