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Many plants suffered this winter from the harsh temperatures, wind, and accumulated snow. As you drive to work or take a walk through the neighborhood, the evidence is everywhere. Most evergreen plant material including shrubs, trees, and even groundcover will struggle this spring.

What is winter burn?
Winter burn happens because evergreens are losing moisture faster than the roots can keep up with. Of course when the ground is frozen it makes it hard for the plant to get water to replace what is being used in transpiration.

What does winter burn look like?
Usually the outer parts of the evergreen shrub or tree will die back and turn an orange brown color. Beneath the dead foliage should be healthy green foliage that was protected all winter long. Typically it will be evident on the side of the plant exposed to the sun and wind. See the following pictures for examples of winter burn.

Boxwood

 

Yews

 

Juiper

Will my plants survive winter burn?
Most plants will survive winter burn, but it does depend on how severely they were damaged. Obviously if more than 40% of the plant is showing winter burn, then you may want to consider replacing the plant.

How can I help my plants recover from winter burn?
First, trim your evergreens tight without cutting holes. Make sure to focus on maintaining the shape and not cutting out each little piece of deadwood. Fertilize with a 10-10-10 fertilizer to help encourage new growth and keep existing growth healthy. Finally, and most importantly water your evergreens!