Winter Plant Damage

It has been the coldest winter in 28 years here in Middle Tennessee and you may be seeing some leaf or needle damage on some of your landscape plants. If your evergreen plants have brown spots on the leaves or entire branches of brown leaves, they are probably suffering from Winter Burn (or Winter Scorch). The plants that we have noticed which have been broadly affected include: Schip Laurel, Otto Luyken Laurel, Hypericum, Manhattan Euonymous, and even some Nandina.
Winter Burn is described as discoloration caused by the leaves or needles on evergreen plants drying out. During the winter, evergreen plants continue to lose water vapor through their leaves or needles. The leaves must replace the water by pulling it up from the roots. However, if the ground is frozen, the plants’ roots cannot absorb ground water to supply it to the leaves. Additionally, if we experience a warm and sunny day while the ground is frozen, the evaporation from the leaves increases, possibly causing the burned foliage to appear. Wind, salt spray, and even dryer vents can contribute to excessive water evaporation from the leaves.

Here is an example of a holly suffering from extensive foliar damage.

Here is an example of a holly suffering from extensive foliar damage.

Many people may misdiagnose this as a disease, when in fact; the plant may recover fully from the damage. There are two schools of thought on how to handle the damaged foliage. One option is to trim out any discolored foliage or branches. This will allow the plant to focus its energies on new growth. The second option is to wait and see if the plant drops the damaged leaves and replaces them with new growth. The second option may be more appealing if trimming the damaged portions of the plant out will disfigure the look of the plant.
Typically, Winter Burn will not permanently damage a plant. However, repeated episodes of Winter Burn and/or leaf scorch in the summer will eventually weaken a plant and make it more susceptible to disease.
There are some steps you can take to protect your plants from Winter Burn.
1. Water your plants if we are experiencing and exceptionally dry or cold winter.
2. Protect your plants from strong winds by wrapping the exposed side in standard burlap.
3. Mulch your plants to help retain moisture in the soil.
We are here to help! Contact us at (615) 776-7456 if you have questions or need our help with properly diagnosing or trimming any damaged plants.

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Winterize Your Landscape

Colder temperatures have arrived, at least for a day or two in Middle Tennessee.  We are fortunate that in our region gardening is not regulated to day dreams, staring out the window or Pinterest!  Regardless of the climate today, you can usually count on a change so here are a few things you can be doing to plan and prepare your landscape for spring.

1. Dig up tender bulbs, such as Dahlias, caladium, and colocasia.  Wipe or brush the excess dirt from the bulbs, wrap in newspaper and store in a cool dry place such as a basement or garage. 

2.  Mulch your leaves back into your lawn or landscape beds.  Leaves are part of Mother Nature’s free and organic fertilization plan! 

3.  If you have tender perennials, such as Geum, some Phlox paniculata, Echinaceas and Rudebeckias, etc., give them a nice winter blanket of leaves and mulch for insulation against harsh winter winds and temperatures.  You can also try this with hardier annuals, such as Lantana, Alocasia and Setcresia.

4.  Still more leaves?  If you haven’t already, start a compost pile now and you’ll be creating some wonderfully nutritious additives for your future gardens.

5.  Clean up your expired vegetable plants.  Again, these are great additions to your compost piles and by leaving a few vegetables to decompose in your garden you may be surprised by volunteer plants next summer!

6.  Plant your spring bulbs now!  Planting may be the last thing you really want to think about doing, but you will thank yourself in the spring as you are rewarded with beautiful blooms when everything around you is still rather dreary.  As a rule of thumb, plant your bulbs three times deeper than the bulbs’ height with the pointy side up and the flat side (with little roots) down.

7.  If you haven’t already, plant some pansies and violas if you can still locate some at your local garden center.  Despite their name, pansies are some of the hardiest annuals you will find withstanding snow and freezing temperatures then bouncing back with a vengeance once the temperatures begin to warm a bit in the spring.

8.  Cut back your perennials.  Remove any dead stems, flower buds and leaves from your perennials.  Hang on to a few seed pods from your perennials and annuals if you’d like to grow your own inside over the winter.

9.  Cut back ornamental grasses in early spring and do heavy pruning in the dead of winter when you’re sure everything is dormant to avoid any new growth becoming damaged by frost.

10.  Does all of this sound overwhelming to you?  Is your schedule too busy to get things like this done?  Call, email or message your professional landscapers at Artisan landscape group and we will take care of these tasks for you, treating your yard as if it were our own! 

www.artisanlandscapegroup.com

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