After the coldest winter in recent memory, plummeting temperatures along with high winds left many plants with cases of winter burn. There are three causes of winter burn: low soil moisture, freezing temperatures, and harsh wind. When these three factors are in place, plants lose water from their leaves faster then they can replace it (transpiration). With that being said, one can probably guess that massive plant damage took place over this past winter.
Knowing there was a high probability of winter burn this season, we strongly advise everyone to check their plants this spring for any damage. You begin by looking for any brown, yellow, or discoloration on the foliage. For a deeper look, scrape back the bark of the plant and see what color it is; if it is brown, then this is an indicator of damage. To take care of this, you will want to provide maintenance to your plants by pruning the deadwood out, in order to promote new. Don’t automatically assume the plant is dead if you see signs of winter burn. It is important to wait until the growing season to determine the plant’s life because this is when new buds emerge. If no new buds grow, then there is a good chance that the plant is dead. My best advice to anyone who is concerned about winter burn is to be patient and wait! Unfortunately, you will have to tolerate the look of a desiccated plant for a few months, but waiting will allow you to fully understand the condition of your plant.
Below are strategies to help prevent winter burn for next year:
1. Water adequately. Make sure to have 1 inch per week or saturation to the depth of 12 to 18 inches. Only water the plants if the ground is not frozen.
2. Use burlap covering to protect the plants from wind.
3. Mulch around the area of the plant so that the root zone is shielded. By doing this, you will help contain moisture for the roots to absorb.