WANT TO PROTECT EVERGREENS? WATER THEM
QI wonder if you would be able to help me out with my evergreens. My yard (front and back) was landscaped in August 2017 and I had a lot of winterkill on my evergreens. Some, like the Green Penguin Dwarf pine, totally died and it broke my heart (not to mention my wallet). There was also damage on the Little Gem spruce, Skybound cedars, Little Giant cedars, Mops Mugo pine and Celtic Pride Siberian cypress. I’m wondering what I should do with them before this winter.
The Skybound cedars had a cover on them but all it seemed to do was burn them on the side that faced south. Should I build a square around these cedars so there is some clearance and then wrap them with burlap, or should I wrap the burlap directly on them? What about the other smaller cedars and dwarf spruce/pine/cypress? How and what do I use to protect them? It cost me a lot to replace them, and I don’t want to have to do it again next spring.
AEvergreens need to be watered in very well in the fall, right up to freeze-up. If they are planted close to a foundation you may have to give them some water during the winter on a warm day. This is especially true if there is little snow cover in the area they are planted.
Erecting a burlap screen rather than wrapping or covering the evergreens is also a good idea to help them through the winter. The screen should face the direction of the prevailing winter winds. Use three long sticks pounded into the ground in front of the plant in the shape of a V. Staple burlap to the sticks, as high as the plant is tall. This technique will keep the drying winds off the plant while allowing the evergreen to breathe, which will not happen if they are wrapped completely in burlap or other material.
If you don’t want to go to the effort of erecting the burlap screen you can use a product called Wilt-Pruf. You can buy this product as a concentrate and mix it yourself for spraying on your cedars. It is a natural product made from tree sap. This product helps keep the moisture from evaporating from cedars and other evergreens. It is this moisture loss during the dry winter winds that often causes evergreens to brown.
Make sure you follow the instructions listed on the bottle carefully, especially regarding when to apply the anti-desiccant. If you apply it too soon you can damage the plants, so read carefully. I like to mix it up according to the directions and then apply it with one of those little hand sprayers. I have the kind that has a pump built into the top of the sprayer. This works great for applying the anti-desiccant, and if the nozzle plugs, which it might, just rinse it under hot water and you are good to go again.
A few weeks ago I answered a question about dead spots on lawns, which prompted my friend Gail Rankin to write in. Gail is a horticultural consultant and I thought you might find it interesting to read her comments. Here is her email:
“I read your answer to the lawn question and I agree with what you wrote. The winter certainly was harsh and we have lost many of the semi-hardy plants. I had a lot of dead patches in my own lawn this spring, but have attributed it to the fungal disease red thread. Last summer we had hot days and rain at night, which created perfect conditions for the growth of creeping red fescue, a red thread disease.
“This spring I noticed a lot of dead patches and the fescue was dead. Now the red thread is showing up again and seems to be bad in most lawns in the city. Most people are unaware of this disease. Unfortunately, there is no control other than fertilizing with a high nitrogen fertilizer.”
Gerald Filipski is a member of the Garden Writers of America. He is the author of Just Ask Jerry. Email your questions to filipskigerald@gmail. com. To read previous columns, go to edmontonjournal.com/filipski
Gerald Filipski recommends watering your evergreens well before the winter freeze-up to help prevent winterkill. If they are planted close to a foundation you may even have to give them some water during the winter, but do it on a warm day.