Winter Injury to Evergreen

Just like other trees, evergreens suffer damages during winter. Some of the most susceptible evergreens include Yew, hemlock, and arborvitae. However, all evergreens can suffer from winter browning. Some of the most sensitive evergreens include the new transplants. Also prone to damage are plants with succulent late-season grown. Some of the common forms of winter damage in evergreens include:

Brown or Bleached Out Foliage


Several factors may lead to discoloration of evergreen foliage during winter. Winter sun and excessive wind lead to excessive loss of water in evergreen foliage. Freezing of the roots in the soil prevents them from absorbing and replacing lost water. The loss of water leads to drying out or desiccation of the plant tissue leading to browning. The foliage may also suffer damage due to abrupt temperatures fluctuations. The foliage warms up during the bright sunny winter days and this helps to initiate cellular activity. However, when the sun sets or if clouds block the sun, foliage temperature drops and this may injure or even kill the foliage.

It is common to experience bright yet cold winter days. These days harm the foliage because they destroy the chlorophyll in the foliage. It is impossible for chlorophyll to re- synthesize when temperatures are below 28 degrees. Therefore, bright cold winter days lead to bleaching of the foliage. When cold temperatures occur early in the fall before plants have hardened off completely, it may lead to injury or death of non-acclimated tissue. Similar damage may occur if cold temperatures occur in late spring after new growth has occurred.

In most cases, leaf damage does not affect the whole plant. In most cases, leaf damage occurs on the windward sides of the plant. The leaf damage only occurs in the whole plant in extreme winter conditions.

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    Bending and Breaking Branches

    Evergreens may suffer damage due to heavy snow and ice storms because these conditions may lead to bending or breaking branches. Some of the evergreens that are most susceptible to snow and ice damage include upright evergreens including juniper and arborvitae. Trees like birch, which have multiple stems, are also prone to damage. Also prone to winter damage are trees with more than one main stem. If an evergreen has a poor form including narrow branch crotches and an included bark, the tree may be susceptible to damage.

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    Preventing Winter Injury to Evergreens

    When evergreen winter injury has occurred, the brown foliage cannot come back to life because it is already dead. However, the buds are hardier than the leaves and can withstand cold temperatures and other winter conditions. Often, the buds will grow and fill in the areas.

    You should wait until mid-spring before you prune out the injured foliage because this will help to prevent further damage. If the buds fail to survive the winter conditions, you should prune the dead branches back to living tissue. In early spring, ensure that you fertilize the injured plants and water them properly throughout the spring season. The following winter, ensure that you have in place a good mechanism to protect your trees. For the best evergreen winter care, contact a reliable Toronto tree service.

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