Evergreens and Winter Injury

winter injury
Signs of winter burn on evergreens.

Winds are fierce. Storms can break branches. But winter weather may bring other tree and shrub issues. Cold weather and fluctuating temperatures often result in damage called winter injury or winter burn.

Winter burn results from loss of water through leaf transpiration. It occurs when winter sun and winds dry out foliage. As foliage dries out it turns brown or red. Winter burn is mostly evident on evergreens. Rapid drops in temperature after a warm sunny day can worsen the issue.

Winter injury is particularly harsh for broadleaf evergreens, those with leaves not needles. Watch these plants, like boxwood and rhododendron, closely for issues.

Foliage will bronze or brown when winter sun and wind conditions are drying. Fortunately, this damage often appears worse than it actually is for the plant. Prune and care for your evergreens and they will generally rebound.

It is important to remember that stressed plants are more susceptible to winter injury. Reducing stress factors will help plants be more resilient. Basic care like winter pruning, wrapping small trees and shrubs and attention to desiccation conditions and salt damage help maintain plants through the winter months and into spring.

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