The evergreens in your yard are the foundation of your winter landscape. Winter just wouldn’t be the same without their snow-coated branches swaying in the wind of a winter storm. But, while they may seem as though they can withstand anything as they stand against the winter elements, there is something that can cause them quite a bit of damage, and it’s not the cold temperatures. Winter weather can be very drying, which is the reason you develop itchy, flaky skin. The same way we use lotions to retain moisture, evergreens need an anti-desiccant to protect them from “winter burn”. Winter burn can occur when trees and hedges lose too much water through their needles as a result of exposure to dry winter air. While your dry skin can make you itchy, drying out through their leaves can kill your evergreens.
In winter, your evergreens cannot take in water through their roots because the groundwater is frozen. This isn’t a problem for deciduous trees like oaks and maples, because they shed their leaves and therefore do not have surface area through which to lose water. Because evergreens don’t shed their leaves before winter, they can suffer desiccation injury—that’s when the water loss through their needles is more than the water they can take up through their roots. Keeping water from escaping is the best way to prevent winter desiccation problems, and that’s where anti-desiccants come in.
Which plants can benefit from anti-desiccant spray treatments?
Most of the evergreens in your yard can benefit from an anti-desiccant treatment. Arborvitae, cedar, cypress, juniper, and pine are a few of the evergreens that can benefit from a protective treatment. Broadleaf evergreens such as azalea, boxwood, holly, and rhododendron are also great candidates for anti-desiccant treatment. Even the tender stems of bushes and shrubs like roses and hydrangea can benefit from treatment.
An important note:
DO NOT spray waxy-blue conifers such as blue spruce. These trees have a natural coating of wax to help them retain water. Application of an anti-desiccant can actually cause these trees to dry out, as their natural coats can be damaged.
Weather is an important consideration when applying anti-desiccants. A dry day in the ’40s through the ’50s is just right for applying the spray. It’s also important to check and be sure that there won’t be any rain for a few days after. Your trees and shrubs should be completely dry for proper spray application. It is also important to allow the plant time to dry in a rain-free environment.
It’s important to wait for cold weather before applying anti-desiccant spray. Waiting until at least December is best to ensure that the trees are completely dormant before being spraying. During the dormancy phase, the water in the trees has moved down from the leaves to the roots. It can take several episodes of freezing weather for dormancy to happen, so waiting until at least December ensures that all of the water is out of the leaves. Any water left in the leaves at the time of anti-desiccant application can cause that water to become trapped in the leaves. If that happens, when the weather freezes again that water can burst plant cells.
As you apply your spray be sure to cover both the top and the bottom of the leaves of your plants because they lose water from both sides of the leaves. It can be tedious, but it is important that all surfaces of your plants are treated.
If you purchase your anti-desiccant spray in a home improvement store, be sure that you follow the label instructions.
Many people would rather have a professional do their spraying than do it themselves, as the job can be difficult. If you’re one of those people you should make sure that you have a licensed professional do the application. Aronica Plant Healthcare offers a wide variety of tree and shrub treatments that can keep your yard safe and your plants looking their best, all year long. To schedule an appointment for your anti-desiccant spray, you can either give them a call or visit their website for more information.