I planted several arborvitae this year. Should I protect them with an anti-dessicant spray this winter?
Answer: With winter comes the threat of freezing temperatures and cruel, wild winds, which can be of concern for our trees and shrubs that are left outside to endure the long, cold season. Sometimes even our strongest evergreens aren’t safe from damage���such as winter burn, or desiccation, an effect of the hostile weather and robust winds.
The cold temperatures can cause soil to freeze, ultimately cutting off most moisture to the roots of trees and shrubs. The loss of moisture, in addition to the strong winds and harsh, fluctuating weather, can trigger water from the leaves to transpire—to lose water via vapor—resulting in insufficient water supply. This lack of water can lead to winter burn—dehydration of a plant causing discoloration, such as browning or yellowing, of leaves.
Many gardeners will try an anti-dessicant to help protect their lovely trees and shrubs from winter burn. However, you should not use anti-dessicant on arborvitae. These sprays often give mixed results with arborvitae. If you feel you must, then be sure to wait until after the ground has frozen and the foliage has hardened; at this point the moisture in the leaves will have retreated to the plants’ roots. If the anti-dessicant is applied while moisture still exists in the leaves, then the moisture may freeze and expand in very cold weather, bursting the cells and causing visible damage. Be sure to apply it at a time when the spray will not freeze on the foliage before it dries.
If you are concerned about winter burn, try wrapping your arborvitae in a covering such as burlap.
Also check out this article on using bird netting to protect plants during winter from too much snow.
Image author and license: Joshua Mayer
The Horticulture Smart Gardening Techniques: Preparing for Winter download is full of great tips and techniques to help any gardener survive the winter season.
With the holidays fast approaching, why not gift a Horticulture 2014 Limited Edition 12-Month Calendar? Jam-packed with gardening advice and beautiful pictures, this lovely calendar is show to please any gardener.
Dirr’s Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs features thousands of plants with essential information for identification, planting and care.
Gardeners both young and old will be inspired to explore, innovate and cultivate beautiful gardens with help from Project Garden.
The Harness the Weather For a Better Garden Value Pack includes materials that explain the way the weather and the environment affect your garden.