Winter Damage

March 9, 2023

Why are the leaves of my plant turning brown this winter/early spring?  It hasn’t been that cold.

So far this winter, we’ve experienced a fluctuation of temperatures and are already seeing damage to some of our more vulnerable landscape plants (Broadleaf Evergreens, Container Plants, and Newly Planted Plants).  Contrary to popular belief, plant damage that occurs in the winter is not generally caused by an extremely cold winter but is more often associated with Extreme Temperature Fluctuations and High Winter Winds.

This damage is referred to as “Winter Damage”, and it often appears as dry, brittle brown areas on the leaf tip or throughout the entire leaf.  Most people assume these branches or plants are dead, but the good news is that plants are more resilient than us and should fully recover in the spring. If you have plants that appear to have winter damage, please don’t dig them up or prune them yet… We recommend leaving them in the ground to give them every opportunity to “Spring Back” to life in the spring!

Most plants will show signs of recovery in April and May, however, some plants may not “Spring Back” to life until June.

The best thing you can do is to…Be patient and wait for signs of recovery this spring! After seeing new growth emerging this Spring, you should be able to determine the extent of the winter damage.  If you are unsure, scratch the bark with your thumb nail and see if there is “Green” underneath…if you see “Green” the stem is still alive, leave it alone.  If it’s brown and brittle, feel free to remove any dead branches at that point.  Try to avoid removing the live, green growth…the plant needs as many live branches as possible.

Remember, a dead plant is just another opportunity to grow something else!  We are here to help. Feel free to reach out to our garden coach if you have any further questions or concerns.