Here’s an interesting fact: Most winter damage sustained by evergreens and shrubs isn’t due to cold weather or to heavy snow. The damage actually comes from drying out.

You see, when temperatures drop low enough, the ground freezes and makes it difficult for conifers and broad-leaved evergreens to take up water through the soil. And since these plants don’t drop all their leaves the same way your average oak would, they continue to lose moisture through the season.

Unfortunately, this is one problem that’s tricky to solve on your own. Watering frozen ground doesn’t work, and creating a physical wind break only helps in very specific situations.

The easiest way to deal with winter damage is by applying an antidesiccant. This adds a protective waxy coating to plants, helping to seal in moisture. It gradually wears off throughout the season, so that by spring your plants are back to normal. We generally recommend an antidesiccant in late fall and early winter, but during especially rough winters, we may advise another application in mid-winter. Some commonly affected plants include:

  • Azalea
  • Boxwood
  • Holly
  • Rhododendron
  • Mountain Laurel
  • Cherry Laurel
  • Euonymus (evergreen varieties)