24 October 27, 2010

Last week, I told how the wind in the winter could dry out many of your shrubs if you do not take steps to minimize the exposure of the shrubs to the wind. In the last column, I told you about wrapping the shrubs with burlap. Over the years, I have learned that some people do not like looking at burlap covered shrubs. This week, I will tell you another method you can use to protect your shrubs form winter’s drying winds.

When you go to the supermarket in the winter, you will notice that some of the vegetables, particularly cucumbers, will have a waxy coating on the vegetables. This is to prevent the vegetables from drying out. The same idea can be used to protect your plants. The spray that you use on your shrubs is called an anti – desiccant spray. You can buy this either as a ready-to-use spray in a trigger spray bottle or you can buy a concentrate that you mix with water. We carry both types in our store. The spray is applied when temperatures are above 40 degrees and the spray needs to dry in daylight hours. The reason for this is that the wax needs to set up properly for the maximum protection of your plants. Temperatures above 40 degrees and particularly the UV rays of light are necessary for the proper set up of the wax.

There are many plants that will benefit from an application of an anti – desiccant spray. Any broadleaf evergreen should be treated with this spray. This would include rhododendrons, azaleas, boxwood, holly and Kalmia (mountain laurel). Other plants that should be treated include rose bushes, hydrangeas and any other woody plant that does not have a thick bark.

When you apply the anti – desiccant spray to these plants, it forms a waxy barrier that cuts down on moisture loss by 30 to 50 %. As you would expect, cutting back on the amount of moisture lost due to drying winds means that the plant has a better chance of surviving the winter.

Every spring, people come into the store with damaged leaves that they have taken off of their broadleaf evergreens. In some cases, the damage is so severe that the plants die. Since none of us knows how bad a winter we will get, it is very important to take the time to protect your plants during the fall. I have heard so many stories over the years about how a customer misses one season of protecting their plants and sure enough that is the year that the plants get damaged. Last winter was a relatively mild winter. Yet many people had damage to their plants. Sunny and windy days pulled moisture out of the leaves of many plants. The roots of the plants could not replace the water being pulled from the plants. The result was major damage to plants even in what we would consider to be a nice winter.

Take some time now to protect your plants from winter wind damage. Most people have spent 100’s if not 1,000’s of dollars on plants. If you have mature plants the cost of replacing those plants with plants of similar size would amount to a staggering expense. November is just around the corner. Temperatures will drop and it is not unheard of to get snow or to have the ground freeze in early November. It’s time to get busy!

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

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