, Newburyport, MA

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April 30, 2014

Tim's Tips: Weather has wreaked havoc on evergreens

Many people have come into the store with a question about shrubs. The question always centers on the fact that they have a plant that appears to have died over the winter. Often, the shrub is a rhododendron, holly or boxwood.

In almost all the cases, it is a broadleaf evergreen. Let me tell you what I think happened to these plants.

If you remember back to last year, we had a certain amount of rain during June. The broadleaf evergreens put out new growth and then settled in for the summer.

During early July, we had a long stretch of very hot weather. The summer as a whole was very dry. If you couple the heat with the lack of rain, the soil became very dry. This led to damage to the roots of the broadleaf evergreens and most other plants that were planted in your yard.

During the fall, the broadleaf evergreens take up water and store the water in the leaves. This helps the leaves to survive the dry winds of winter. The problem was, the damage to the roots prevented the plants from taking up the water that they needed in order to survive the winter.

If you remember, we had a cold and windy winter. This led to damage to the leaves of the broadleaf evergreens. In fact, I am hearing that some of you lost perennials and other plants during the winter. My feeling is that a hot and dry summer, followed by a cold and windy winter, led to a lot of damage to the plants in all of our yards.

The question now is, “Are my plants dead?” If you have broadleaf evergreens that are damaged, you should check to see if the plant is dead. You do this by taking your fingernail and scraping a bit of the bark on a few of the stems of the plant.

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