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Protecting Broadleaf Evergreens

How to protect rhododendrons and azaleas from winter weather.

Broadleaf evergreens—as in azaleas and rhododendrons—are susceptible to damage from the sun and wind in northern winters. New plantings and young specimens are more at risk than established shrubs.

rhododendron hedge

The first step in protecting them comes at planting time; select a site that shelters them. Plant them on a northern or eastern slope, the north or east side of a building, or to the north or west side of taller, hardier evergreens.

In late fall, after the ground has frozen, spread several inches of leaves or other mulch across the root zone.

After de-decorating your Christmas tree, place it in front of the shrub to stop the wind. Alternatively, cut the Christmas tree branches and lay them over the root zone and even over the shrub's branches.

You can also make a temporary windbreak out of snow fencing or burlap. This could be fashioned as a four-sided box around the plant or a row of fencing parallel to the plant, or you can bundle burlap around the plant and tie it. Whatever you do, make sure air can permeate the material and reach the plant.

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