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McKay Nursery Company

Winter Weather Plant Damage

Feb 3, 2016 1:43:07 PM

Written by

McKay Staff

in Problem Solvers

Is winter near the end?  Spring is closing in fast especially with the very mild winter that we have had in Wisconsin. Here are some questions plant owners have regarding winter plant damage and some of our solutions to help you and your plants get through winter. 


1. How do the winter months affect landscape plants? 

It depends on what type of winter you had in your area.  Unfortunately, the type of winter is very difficult to prepare for because of the variable conditions that it can have (freezing rain, ice, snow, wind, extreme cold, etc.). 


2. So how do you know if plants are injured during these cold months?

Typically, cold injury rears its ugliness in the early summer months.  However this can be plant specific as plants grow at different rates.  What is the reasoning for this?  A lot of winter damage occurs during the months of February and March when we see temperature fluctuations.  These months are particularly hard on plants as the sun shines raising temperatures above freezing and then dropping well below the freeze mark at night.  It is this quick drop in temperature that may cause the water in cells to freeze and then rupture.  Some typical signs of freeze-thaw injury is bark cracking or spitting.  It is a delayed reaction caused by the healing process of the plant and is a strong indication that cell rupture has occurred.  Hence, mild winters are not necessarily easier on plants because of this freeze-thaw relationship. 


3. What is the best solution to this problem?

Correct plant placement to avoid southwest damage (particularly on trees) and selecting cold hardy plants that have withstood the test of time.  Be wary of cheap marketing campaigns that say a plant has been tested.   The best approach to buying a plant for your area is to use a trustworthy source of plant material with the correct hardiness selected for your area.  McKay Nursery Company has a wide selection of dependable and reliable cold hardy plants that will fit your landscape application.

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