Late Winter Bronzing of Evergreens-Is it Normal?

Late Winter Bronzing on Evergreens

What is “winter bronzing”? While approaching the end of winter, some of your favorite evergreens may appear to take on a bronze appearance. You may be wondering. “Is this normal or is my plant dying?” Changing foliage color is a normal phenomena that affects some evergreens near the end of winter while seasons are transitioning. Freezing temperatures, followed by a warming trend, longer hours of sunlight, then more cold can trigger foliage to discolor. The color change is a reaction to low temperatures, winds and sunlight, causing mild desiccation of the needles or leaves, allowing the underlying colors to show through. This dulling of green foliage is more pronounced on plants that receive more sunlight. The result is commonly known as “winter bronzing”. The longer the ground is frozen and the more water that is evaporated from the plant than it can take in, the more pronounced the foliage will appear to turn from green to brown, bronze, or even orange or purple. This process is similar to why deciduous leaves change color in the fall. While the tree is going dormant for the winter months, chlorophyll production subsides and the true underlying colors of the leaves are revealed.  When can I expect my trees to look more normal? Once the temperatures rise and new growth is stimulated, the foliage will turn back to a more vibrant green. Broken or dead branches are different in that they are completely dried out and brown. Those branches should be pruned off the tree in late winter/early springtime to prevent any further damage. Any falling or divided tree leads can be arbor tied to secure them and encourage upright growth. Split branches can also be arbor tied together, and if caught in time the cambium growing layer of the tree can mend. In the photograph above, the center upright Western Arborvitae are displaying signs of bronzing with no evidence of  any completely browned or broken branches, both indications of a normal and healthy tree.

For more gardening tips and design ideas: My books on Amazon:

A Guide to Northeastern Gardening: Journeys of a Garden Designer Zones 3-9
Landscape Design Combinations

Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee 2018. All Rights Reserved.

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Snow Warnings and Care of Landscape Plants

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March Snowstorm

The seasons have been shifting in the northeast, leaving many homeowners in much dismay when it comes to winter garden maintenance. Winter storms can hit late winter into early spring, causing more distress to plantings once they have experienced warmer than normal temperatures. As we await another winter storm, there are some precautions you can take to ensure the vitality of your landscape plants and protect them from possible damage.

SNOW WEIGHTED TREE BRANCHES: Most evergreen trees and shrubs can handle snow build-up on their branches, but in the instance of a heavy snow, the branches may become weighted down. Certain Arborvitae are susceptible to the weight of snow pulling down on them and may have already experienced sagging branches. Further damage can easily be avoided by wrapping the branches together with arbor tie. The cloth tie cannot be seen from the outside, will prevent future damage from another snow, and the tree will look unscathed.

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Arborvitae and Snow Care

BROKEN OR DAMAGED TREE BRANCHES: Before an approaching storm, try to walk outside and inspect trees and shrubs on your property for any broken or damaged branches. If you do spot a damaged branch, tie the two split halves together by wrapping them tightly together with arbor tie. Start by wrapping the two halves tightly together and continue wrapping above and below the crack for extra support. If caught in time, the cambium (or growing layer) of the plant will repair itself and fuse the two parts of the damaged branch together. I have personally saved split branches on holly, azalea and arborvitae using this technique and the plants have recovered beautifully. Identifying these issues now and tending to them prior to the snow can mean the survival of your plant.

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Arbor Tied Split Branch on Holly

SNOW REMOVAL: While it is tempting to go outside and start removing snow from weighted branches it is also a good time to exercise caution. Under the snow-covered branches could also be a frozen layer of ice.  Any manipulating of the frozen branches could result in easy breakage and permanent damage to your tree.  A helpful tip is to very carefully dig snow from around trapped branches and allow them to spring back up on their own. Never shake branches with ice.  It is best to let nature take its course and allow thawing to occur. The branches will gradually regain their shape as the ice melts preventing any harm to your landscaping.

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Snow Removal From Branches

SPRING BULBS AND SNOW:  Just as your spring bulbs are emerging, a late winter snow storm in March can cause much distress and uncertainty. Besides having to tend with the snow, there is some reassuring news!  While mulch protects dormant bulbs from cold, once they start blooming, a covering of snow will act as an insulator. The snow will help to hold in the natural warmth from the soil and provide protection. Once the snow is gone, you can continue to enjoy your bulbs!

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Spring Bulbs and Snow Cover

As mentioned previously, plants are very resilient, and with a little care can bounce back and recover nicely after a major snow. With a March snow on the way, warmer days may not look promising at the moment, but Spring is right around the corner!

Informational Links:

A Guide to Northeastern Gardening on Facebook
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A Guide to Northeastern Gardening Blog

NEGardening on Twitter

My Published Books: 

A Guide to Northeastern Gardening: Journeys of a Garden Designer

Landscape Design Combinations

Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee 2017. All Rights Reserved.page-divider-autumn

Care of Landscape Plantings

8 echinacea pow wow 5 After you have invested time and money into your landscape it is important to take proper care of your plantings.  Here is a list that I have compiled over the years that I share with my clients.  I hope you will find it useful!

WATERING:  Water thoroughly after planting and keep well watered throughout the first growing season. Be careful not to over water! Feel down by the roots to determine whether the plant is getting the correct moisture. Soil should appear moist but not wet or overly dry. Consider type of soil, time of year and amount of sun and rain. Make sure fall plantings get enough water until the ground freezes in winter and then when the ground thaws. If you do not have a sprinkler system the use of soaker hoses is recommended. Water should be applied at a rate of 3/4 inch of water every three days or 1 1/2 inches a week. (One inch of water goes down 6 ” into the soil.)

GENERAL:  Drip lines need to be run longer (2-3 hours) versus mist heads (30-40 minutes) Adjust accordingly depending on soil type, sun verses shade, etc.  Water thoroughly and regularly the first growing season until the plant’s root system is established.  Do not rely on rainfall alone.  Do not rely on lawn sprinklers alone, as they may not supply an adequate amount of water.  Watering by hand, two or three times a week to supplement your irrigation system is recommended in summer heat.

EVERGREENS: Most evergreens can be pruned at any time of year except when the weather is too hot or right before temperatures start to drop below freezing. Ideally the best time is believed to be in March before new growth starts. This also eliminates any winter burn that can occur during especially cold weather and gives the evergreen a good start for spring. Most evergreens will not take well to hard pruning.  The only exception is Taxus (Yew) which may rejuvenate over time. No plant is completely maintenance free so keep your evergreens trimmed to their desired size. This will also keep them full and healthy and prevent thinning out. NOTE: Evergreens will shed their needles or foliage in the Fall/Spring to allow for new growth. If any branches appear brown or dead after planting or after winter, trim them off and allow the plant to rejuvenate. When in doubt ask a professional.

WINTER CARE:  BROAD LEAVED EVERGREENS:  Some Broad-Leaved Evergreens such as Cherry, Skip or Mountain Laurel, Japanese Aucuba, Holly and Rhododendron can be subject to winter burn from dehydration due to water loss in the case of a cold and dry winter.   Care should be taken in the usage of an anti-desiccant such as ‘Wilt-Proof” Spray which should be applied around Thanksgiving and again if there is a thaw during the winter months.  Do not apply when the temperatures are freezing.

FLOWERING SHRUBS: Prune flowering shrubs and flowering evergreens after the bloom (late August into fall) Flowering shrubs such as hydrangea bloom on the last year’s growth and will not bloom if cut back in spring. Shrubs such as Spirea improve bloom when cut back in Fall/Winter (March) before they get their leaves in spring. Renovate Lilac in winter and prune for shape after flowering in spring. Prune roses in spring to remove winter damage before new growth starts.

ROSES:  Apply an all in one systemic feed and insect control into the soil around each plant such as Bayer All in One Rose & Flower Care a few times throughout the summer to keep your roses beautiful and insect free.  Follow dosage on label. Deadheading on Knock Out Roses is not essential but doing so will keep your plants full.

TREES: Prune (or move) deciduous trees in fall after leaves have fallen and tree is dormant. Evergreens can be moved in either spring or fall and must be kept well watered.

GRASSES: Grasses should be cut back in late March before new growth appears. Leaving the grass during the winter provides nice interest to the garden.

PERENNIALS:  Deadhead perennials such as salvia though out summer for continuous repeat blooms.  In fall perennials should be allowed to die back then remove any unwanted foliage.  Pruning back perennials can be done in either late fall or early spring (March) before new growth appears but it is recommended in the Fall in order to prevent disease.  Note:  There are some perennials such as liriope (lillyturf) and coral bells (Heuchera) that can provide nice winter interest and can be pruned back in spring.

FERTILIZING: Feed plants in spring and Late Summer. Do not apply a full dose if feeding in the fall. Apply a half dose for root feeding only. For new plantings allow the plantings to become established then apply a slow release organic fertilizer or apply a “starter” formula when planting. For established plants there are several products on the market. Be careful not to buy a concentrated product that will burn the roots. A slow release or organic fertilizer such as Holly Tone is recommended. Once again when in doubt ask a professional.

INSECT CONTROL: Periodically check your plants for insect or fungal damage and treat if needed. It is advised to use a regular insect control maintenance program to keep your plantings healthy.

LAWN CARE: Ideally sod lawns are best planted in spring and seed best planted in the fall. Core Aeration and over-seeding are best done in the fall to help rejuvenate a lawn and give it a healthy start for the following season. Your lawn should also have a regular maintenance program to keep it at its best ask your professional.

2015 Lee@ A Guide to Landscape Design & Maintenance.

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Book Announcement! My First Published Book!

FotorCreated BOOK PROMO 2 600 pixAfter two years of working on my book I am excited to announce that it is finally published! A Guide to Northeastern Gardening: Journeys of a Garden Designer is a comprehensive guide to gardening in plant hardiness zones 3-9.  My goal for the book is to share information on a number of gardening topics based on my experiences as a landscape designer over the years.BOOK PHOTO

A Little Bit About the Book:

A Guide to Northeastern Gardening is a comprehensive guide of valuable information on plants hardy in a range of zones from 3-9, and gardening techniques backed up by my own personal experiences as a professional landscape designer, along with answers to frequently asked questions. Learn about landscape design principles, butterfly gardening, deer resistant plants, long blooming perennials, globe and weeping evergreens, flowering trees and shrubs, native plantings, shade gardening and more. Whether you are a novice or experienced gardener, A Guide to Northeastern Gardening will help you to create your own dream garden. Come along on my journey into the world of gardening!

A Little Bit About the Author:

Lee Miller is a professional landscape/garden designer involved in the horticultural industry since 1996. Having started a gardening blog in 2010, she is the author of over 150 articles on general gardening, landscape design principles, gardening tips, planting, pruning, garden maintenance, feature plants and more. Her published book, “A Guide to Northeastern Gardening”, is an accumulation of information touching on a wide variety of gardening topics, all backed up by her own personal experiences.

Previews and further information are available on the following links:

Updated for 2016: Now in Amazon Softcover!

Amazon Kindle

Also here is a link to the full story behind the author and the book. I hope to share my gardening experiences with you!

As Always…Happy Gardening!

2015 Lee@ A Guide to Landscape Design & Maintenance.

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Sweet Flag-Not So Sweet…or Is It?

PicMonkey Collage

Clockwise:  Golden Sweet Flag (Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’), Variegated Liriope (Summer), Carex ‘Evergold’ Sedge, Liriope (Winter)

As winter settles in here in my Zone 7, Long Island garden I look out upon the landscape and access how certain plants have performed over the years as far as hardiness and maintenance are concerned. In winter when structure is extremely important the Sweet Flag tends to stand out. Golden Sweet Flag (Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’) may not be a plant I regularly use in my designs but it does have its merit in the landscape and looks perfect when in the correct spot!  Sweet Flag is hardy in USDA zones 5-11, prefers to be grown in partial to full sun and requires a constantly moist soil.  It clumps to approximately ten inches tall and slowly spreads by underground rhizomes.

In a pond setting or very shady and moist area such as under a tree, Sweet Flag shines.  It’s variegated golden yellow and green upright blades add interest to the landscape all year round. Attributes are that it is evergreen and the only maintenance required is an occasional thinning.  It is also very hardy,  disease resistant and “deer resistant”

Alternatives to Sweet Flag are Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’,Variegated Japanese Sedge (Carex morrowii ‘Aurea-variegata’) and Liriope.  Evergold and Variegated Japanese Sedge each grow to about the same height of 10 inches to a foot and stay in more of a clumping form and Liriope (Liriope muscari ‘Variegata) grows to approximately 6-12 inches in height, also stays in rounded clumps and bears small purple blooms in fall followed by black berries.  Liriope prefers dry shade but will adapt to just about anywhere. All three are considered “deer resistant” and I frequently use each in my designs.

Next time you are looking for an evergreen, shade tolerant, moisture loving perennial consider Sweet Flag.  This seemingly underused plant could serve nicely in your landscape when given the correct location!

As Always…Happy Gardening and all the Best for the New Year!

 Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee, 2014, All Rights Reserved

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Late November: Anti-desiccant on Broadleaf Evergreens

broadleaf evergreens

Time is running out to apply anti-desiccant to your broad-leaf evergreens such as Cherry Laurel, Skip Laurel, Holly, Boxwood, Rhododendron, Azalea and Japanese Aucuba. Anti-desiccant coats the leaves with a protective covering and prevents against winter desiccation/moisture loss and possible damage from drying winds and cold, which broad-leaved evergreens are prone to.  Ideally, temperatures should be in the 50’s to apply with no freezing temperatures in the forecast for the next several hours. The best time to apply is now in late November, right around Thanksgiving.  Don’t worry…there is still time.  Just make sure the temperatures remain above freezing when applying!

For timely landscape maintenance tips for zone 7 also visit my Facebook page. Also here is more information on the use of anti-desiccant.

As Always…Happy Gardening and Wishing you and your family a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Author: Lee@A Guide To Landscape Design & Maintenance, Copyright 2014. All rights reserved

Dormant Oil Application in October: Protection from Insect Damage for your Landscape Trees & Shrubs

Dormant Oil is a known application that is sprayed on landscape trees and shrubs in fall to help protect them from overwinter damage from insects. Prepared from a mixture of highly refined petroleum oils combined with an emulsifying agent, dormant oil can be mixed with water and sprayed on trees killing exposed insects and mites by either suffocating them or destroying internal cells. These oils are effective in controlling most species of scales and mites that overwinter as nymphs or adults such as cottony maple scale, obscure scale, euonymus scale and lecanium scale which can do early damage. Dormant Oil is also effective on insect eggs that are laid in September and overwinter such as aphids, leafrollers, Spruce Spider Mite, Honeylocust Mite and European Red Mite. Dormant Oils are effective for both immediate and preventive care and have been developed to be less harmful to beneficial insects.   They are also safe for birds, humans and other mammals.

When to Apply:  Dormant oil applications should be applied in fall when temperatures remain in the 50’s at night (Early October) and must be done when temperatures stay above freezing for 24 hours. Dormant Oil is also best applied on a clear day with no wind and no threat of rain within a least six hours so that the oil can dry.  It is preferable to choose a time when no rain is in the forecast for a few days to ensure effectiveness.

Warnings:  Be sure to follow all label directions because oil sprays may damage certain plants, including Japanese maple, Eastern Redbud, sugar maple and Amur maple.  It can also cause the foliage (needles) of Colorado blue spruce to become discolored (change from blue to green) since the pigment is formed from the oils on the surface of the plant.  When in doubt consult with your landscape professional.

Dormant Oil when applied correctly will help to protect your trees and shrubs from winter and early spring harm from a variety of damaging insects and will ensure the health and vitality of your landscaping.

For more information on dormant oil application visit:  Colorado State University horticulture Insect Control

As Always..Happy Gardening!

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