How To Recover From Winter Burn Without Replacing Your Plants

Come spring, gardeners might discover that their evergreens and needled plants have brown, dry patches. This is known as winter burn, or desiccation, and is caused by a combination of things including: freezing temperatures, low soil moisture, and blowing winds. The good news is with most cases, and with a little care, your trees and shrubs will bounce back from the winter burn and be as good as new. If you think your plants have winter burn, or any other issue, send a picture to our team of diagnostics team using this form, they will get back to you ASAP and help you figure out how to treat it.

Here  are a few tips and tricks to help you treat winter burn and avoid the hassle of replacing the plants. 


1. Look for Green

If new foliage hasn’t started growing by spring, gently scratch the bark on affected branches and look for a green color underneath. When it’s green, the branch should heal on its own with a bit of time (and fertilizer).  If the color under that gentle scratch is brown, then it is time to prune! After a few growing seasons, the tree or shrub will fill in the areas that you’ve had to cut away. If the tree is completely brown, recovery is unlikely and in that case, you will need to replace it. 


2. Prune 

Winter burn starts with the tips of needles turning brown and, eventually, full needles on a whole section of the tree are brown and dry. Prune away the brown, dead, and dying needles/branches once new foliage has started to grow on the tree or shrub because premature pruning could worsen the desiccation. New foliage will often push out the dead tissue and you won’t need to do much pruning. 


3. Prevent Winter Burn

The best way to treat winter burn is to avoid it completely. There are a few steps you can take to prevent it. 

  • Be sure to water throughout the year as needed.  Newer plants will need more supplemental water, but even established plants will need water to help keep the needles hydrated, including over the winter months if there isn’t significant snowfall. 
  • Don’t do any late season pruning as it encourages new growth.  Prune in spring after the plant has sent out some new growth already. 
  • Assist the water retention in the needles by applying Wilt-Pruf to reduce cold weather and wind related desiccation.

Gardening and maintaining your landscape is always a learning process and we want to help you every step of the way. The team at Glover Nursery are always happy to answer any of your questions.  Don’t forget that you can send pictures of your plants in to our diagnostic team for assistance.  Stop by or give us a call, we are here to help. 


Other useful links and resources:

How To Winterize Your Fountain

Best Plants for Your Winter Garden

Related posts

1 comment

  • Thank you, I was afraid my shrubs were dead.

Comments are closed.