Winter Gardening Concerns

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Sometimes gardeners forget that plants, specifically evergreens continue to take up moisture in the winter. Evergreens are plants such as junipers, leylands, pines, cypress, hollies, etc. When the ground is frozen or during a dry period, moisture is not available to plant roots. Winter winds and warm sun on cold days dries out evergreen’s foliage and will increase the amount of moisture the plant needs to survive. You can protect susceptible plants by planting them in a sheltered area, providing additional water during dry periods, and watering before an expected hard freeze. To check the moisture condition of your soil, scrape off a few inches of the topsoil. If it is dry, water is needed. Mulches, drip irrigation and soaker hoses help ease the task of watering.

Another factor to be concerned about in the winter is injury from ice and snow falling from the roof on frozen branches. Wrap wide tape or cloth/burlap around an evergreen to prevent broken branches. This technique is helpful for boxwoods and arborvitaes. If branches are bent and broken over by heavy ice or snow, wait a few days before pruning or cleaning up. Branches often will recover.

Here are some other steps to protect your plants from cold damage: Only plant plants that are hardy to our hardiness zone (Wilson County is Zone 7b). Plant tender plants in the highest part of the landscape because cold air settles in lower lying areas. Protect plants from cold winds with a fence or an evergreen hedge of tall trees. Shade plants from direct winter sun, especially early morning sun. The south side of the house without shade is the worst place for tender plants. Plants that freeze slowly and thaw slowly will have the least amount of damage. Stop fertilizing plants in late summer and let them harden off for the winter.

For more information, call the Wilson County Master Gardeners Wednesdays from 1-3 PM at 252-237-0113 or email anytime at

Written By

Photo of Cyndi Lauderdale, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionCyndi LauderdaleExtension Agent, Agriculture - Commercial Ornamental and Consumer Horticulture (252) 237-0113 cynthia_lauderdale@ncsu.eduWilson County, North Carolina
Updated on Jan 13, 2016
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