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Caring For Tender Plants In Winter

Plants are living things, just like us. Consequently, they may be adversely affected by the heat or cold, especially the cold. These plants need extra care to help them survive typical Rochester area winters.

Although conifers look strong and hardy, and many come from the northern areas of the world, I still apply antidesiccant to every one of my evergreens – conifers and broadleaf. Antidesiccant, sold in garden stores under such brand names as Wilt-Pruf, is inexpensive insurance for your evergreens. If you have a number of evergreens, it may be less expensive to hire a landscape or tree care company to apply antidesiccant.

Antidesiccant is a wax-like material that coats evergreen leaves or needles and reduces the amount of water that the wind blows off them during the winter. Preventing water from blowing away allows the plant to reabsorb it and use it over again. The alternative can be dieback.

Some trees and shrubs are so tender that precautions have to be taken in addition to antidesiccant. These precautions include wrapping the plants in burlap or putting wooden tents over them to protect them from the prevailing wind.

The need to wrap can be reduced if you follow the “right plant, right place” rule. Read the nursery tags. If the plant you select is winter-tender, either plant it in a protected area of your property or select a plant that is hardier.

Snow isn’t nearly as damaging to most plants as wind, except for the freak early season storm that piles snow on branches before deciduous trees and shrubs lose their leaves. Wind, on the other hand, causes desiccation and breakage, even during a relatively open winter like we had last year.

Don’t wait until the first snowfall to make plans for protecting your trees and shrubs this winter. Start now so you can be prepared when the weather does turn bad.

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