NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

October 17, 2012

Tim's Tips: Prepare your broadleaf evergeens for winter

Tim's Tips Tim Lamprey
Newburyport Daily News

---- — Take a look around your yard. You probably have some shrubs planted. Do you remember how much you paid for those shrubs? If they have been in the ground for a few years, their value has gone up.

If the wind or the snow damages those shrubs, how much would it cost to replace them? With winter coming, you should begin to think about how you are going to protect those plants from the elements.

If you have rhododendrons or any shrub that keeps it leaves over the winter, the winter wind can dry those leaves. Excluding the wind that occurs during rain or snow, the winter wind has very little moisture. As the wind blows past the leaves, moisture is pulled out. Eventually, the wind will pull out enough moisture and the leaves will begin to show brown or black spots. Under severe conditions, an entire leaf may turn brown. You can help to prevent this from happening by preparing your broadleaf evergreens for winter.

Your rhododendrons and other broadleaf evergreens take up water in the fall and store it in the leaves. This allows the leaves to lose some moisture to the winter wind. So far, we have had a decent amount of rain this fall. If we stop having rainy weather, you should water your shrubs once a week right up until the ground freezes.

You also need to take additional steps to prevent the wind from doing damage to the leaves. You can apply a product called Wilt Pruf to the leaves of your shrubs. This product applies a waxy coating to the leaves to cut down on moisture loss by 30 to 50 percent. This product must be applied at temperatures above 40 degrees. Rose bushes and hydrangeas are two other plants that will benefit from an application of this product.

You can also wrap your plants with burlap to protect the plants from the wind. The burlap allows the wind to gently pass through without the wind pulling the moisture out of the leaves. Because the burlap is porous, it does not trap in heat the way plastic sheeting can trap in heat.

Last year, we had a new product in the store that was a shrub protector. It is made of green plastic mesh. It has a series of steel rods that form a tent shape. You place these over your shrubs and, with the pegs that are included, stake the cover to the ground.

Some wind and rain can pass through the mesh. The really great feature about this product is that the steel rods prevent the snow from crushing down the cover. This makes these covers ideal for those areas near the roofline where snow can fall on the shrubs.

Winter is coming. How bad will it be? Check back with me in March and I can give you a better idea! Now is the time to get those protective measures in place so that your shrubs won’t need to be replaced next spring.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is www.Harborgardens.com. Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to ndn@newburyportnews.com, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.