Harsh winter conditions can be incredibly challenging to your shrubs and trees. Freezing temperatures, icy winds, and heavy snow for months can all take a toll on your landscaping. 

Yet the biggest threat to your plants and greenery during the winter months is water loss, also called desiccation. Frozen soil keeps plants and shrubs from replacing their stored water supply with moisture from the ground.  

Overlooking your landscaping’s need for a healthy amount of water during the off-season isn’t a good plan. The experts at Dial Environmental can help keep your plants from drying out by taking the proper precautions before Old Man Winter arrives. 

How Cold Weather Affects Your Plants 

Plants and shrubs, such as bushes, are very threatened by cold temperatures that cause desiccation and browning of leaves. On days when the air is cold and the sky is sunny, the needles and leaves of plants become warm which causes transpiration. In other words, cold winter days can prompt transpiration which is when moisture pulls away from the plant.  

As a result, the shrub or bush tries unsuccessfully to gather water from the hardened ground. This leaves the vegetation in a desiccation state which means the plant is thirsty, dry, and brown. Your bushes will continue to rely on its water reserves, stored in the needles, stems, and leaves, until the water is gone, and the plant is dried out. 

What is Anti-Desiccant Treatment? 

Anti-Desiccant treatments, also called anti-transpirants, are usually sprays that create a protective coating on the pore of the plant’s leaf

How Do Anti-Desiccants work? 

Anti-Desiccants work by making a thin, waxy barrier over the plant’s needles and leaves. This film slows the amount of moisture lost by the shrub during winter. Eventually the anti-desiccant will wear down and is usually gone from the bush by springtime.  

Examples of plants that will benefit from anti-desiccants: azalea, boxwood, rhododendron, holly, cedar, cypress, pine, juniper, rose and hydrangea stems.  

Be sure to read the anti-desiccant label so you don’t use this treatment on plants that don’t like it. 

When Should You Apply an Anti-Desiccant?

The optimal weather for applying anti-desiccant are mild temperatures in the 40s or 50s, no rain or snow forecasted for a minimum of 24 hours. Make sure the plant’s foliage is dry so that the anti-desiccant spray will dry properly after being applied. You’ll want to spray both upper and lower leaves completely.  

Most landscapers recommend waiting until, at the very least, December before using anti-desiccant products. That’s because plants need to be completely dormant before applying. If you put the anti-desiccant on your trees or bushes too soon, then you could damage the plant in the short term. 

If you live in a region that has intense winters, you’ll need a second anti-desiccant application. Usually it’s best to apply it again around the warmer days of February or March. 

Ways to Avoid Drying Out Your Plants During Winter

There are a few ways you can avoid drying out your plant’s leaves and needles during the dormant winter. Following these tips will help prepare your landscaping for Spring. 

  • Watering: Be sure your plants are well-watered during the late autumn months. In mild climates, you can water your landscaping on warm days throughout the winter months if the soil isn’t frozen.  
  • Water Loss: Avoid water loss through your shrub’s needle/leaf surfaces, known as transpiration. This can cause damage to new plant growth during the springtime. 
  • Sunburn: Protect your shrubs from intense winter sun damage by wrapping the trunk in burlap or light-colored corrugated paper. This is a particularly important action to take if your shrubs were pruned during the late fall, leaving trunk tissue exposed. Older foliage with thin bark will also need this protective wrap. 
  • Wind Burn: Canvas, burlap, pine boughs, and landscaping fabrics can be used to insulate shrubs and plants from intense winter winds and heavy snow. Avoid using any kind of plastic barriers because the plastic will heat up on sunny days and possibly harm your plants. 

Professional Anti-Desiccant Treatment  

Winter is challenging for all living creatures, including your trees and plants. It’s important your landscape gets the proper care and treatment before going dormant. That’s the best way to guarantee vibrant and healthy plants come springtime.  

Make your life easier by relying on the professional anti-desiccant treatment of Dial Environmental. We can preserve your plants through the icy, snowy winter months so you can enjoy them during the warm, sunny season. Contact us today for a free quote!