In 2018 we had a significantly dry summer and fall leading our trees and shrubs into the winter of 18/19’ drier than average. As the winter of 2019 progressed, numerous established plants began to show signs of winter burn. Winter burn or desiccation occurs due to water loss through foliage which is exacerbated by frozen roots that are unable to take up water and replenish the foliage. Desiccated foliage will turn orange or brown tinted in late winter/early spring.

We had numerous Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana Gracillis’ that were affected by the drying winter winds. While they were not killed the majority have yet to fully recover.

Rhododendron in exposed locations suffered winter burn and branch die back. We pruned out the damage and normal new growth has since emerged. The amount of die back dictates the plants ability to recover.

Going forward we plan to be proactive, properly irrigating before winter when possible, and will consider the application of anti-desiccants in areas of high exposure. In areas of high wind exposure, we might also use burlap in an effort to block the desiccating effects of the wind to our evergreen plants.

For more information on winter burn and other winter injuries click on the link to Cornell University.