20October 26, 2011

As much as we hate to admit it, winter is on its’ way. When winter gets here, cold dry winds will be the norm for our region. Those cold and dry winds raise havoc with our trees and shrubs. The broadleaf evergreens, in particular, are easily damaged by those winds. During the warm months, the wind blows around here too. As the wind hits the leaves of the plants, the wind pulls moisture out of the leaves. In the warm weather, the roots of the plant bring water up to the leaves. In the winter, the ground is frozen and the plant ‘s roots cannot bring water up to the leaves. To make up for this loss of water, many of our plants will take up extra water during the fall. The moisture is stored in the leaves and twigs. This allows the plant to lose moisture during the winter months. The problem, in our area, is that the winter winds blow constantly and the stored moisture is soon depleted. If we want to help the plants to survive the winter, we need to cut down the amount of exposure our plants have to the winds of winter. In this column and next week’s column, I will give you some options on what you can do to protect your plants from the wind this winter.

This week, I want to tell you about a product that has been around for years that will help your plants to survive the winter. As a group, the product is called an anti-desiccant spray. The product is sold under several brand names. This type of product is a wax that is sprayed onto the leaves and stems of your plants. The wax forms a barrier that cuts down moisture loss by 30 to 50%. The product comes in a ready to use spray or you can buy a concentrate that you mix with water and spray onto your plants. The key things that you need to remember are that the spray must be applied when temperatures are above 40 degrees and it must be applied so that it can dry during daylight hours. The combination of the ultraviolet light during the day and the above 40-degree weather helps the wax to set up properly.

There are certain plants that will benefit greatly from the application of an anti-desiccant spray. The list would include rhododendrons, azaleas, boxwood, holly and any other broadleaf evergreen. There are also some plants that do not have a thick bark and they are easily dried out by the wind. This would include hydrangeas and rose bushes.

Since temperatures begin to drop below 40 degrees in November, it is important to apply this spray now. We have this product available in our store now. This is one of those fall chores that you cannot put off until later in the season. There are other options you can use to protect your plants but they are a lot more labor intensive. I will tell you about the other options next week.

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

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