Snow covered bushes

garden_grammie(SE Pa.)February 16, 2014

Here as in other locations my azaleas are completely covered in drifted snow. Even though they are huge established bushes you can barely tell they are there. It is the same with my rhodies. Will they flower this year? At this point digging from under the snow is not even an option

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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

If the shrubs stay in a temperature range at which that variety is hardy, you have a good chance of getting blooms. The snow will serve as a "winter coat" and protect them from the drying winds and extreme temp swings. There may be some damage due to the weight of the snow on some thin branches but you can check that when the snow melts and you can once again "see" the plants.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 6:10PM
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garden_grammie(SE Pa.)

Thanks so much for the encouraging words. They are hardy for my zone. I have had them for at least 20 years. I don't remember them ever being this buried under so much snow. We have had one storm after the next without much melting in between. Time will tell. More snow predicted for Tuesday. Yikes!!!!!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 6:23PM
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Snow is one of the best possible insulators for rhododendrons and azaleas. As luis pr noted, heavy wet snow can cause breakage, but this usually does not happen. In their high mountain homes in China and other parts of Asia, many species are used to being completely buried in snow for several months. They do not experience temperatures much below freezing even though the air temperature is way below zero.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 5:10AM
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I'll post this pic here because it seems relevant to my question about abused azalea branches

I've always thought the damage was deer or some other woodland critter that ventures out during the winter.

The tips are not evenly chewed (ie they're different lengths) and don't protrude through the netting (I think ruling out deer).

If it is snow -- why are the "cuts" so darn clean? -- I can see only one or two twigs with a bit greenstick rip to it (strips of bark remaining)

If its a critter -- which?

Does winter sun exposure contribute to abuse of branch tips?

I started covering some of the azas with burlap this past season. One shows full green leaves, the only abuse being the twigs that pushed through the burlap -- and lost their tips. This ictured bush has a fair sized "green" zone (unabused tips) around the bottom. Is this a testament to the all-season long snow cover this year??

thanks for any insights!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 4:50PM
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Deer, voles, mice, squirrels are all possibilities. In a tough winter deer are desperate and can easily push against the netting enough to get their teeth around the stems. Like wise, deep snow will enable smaller animals to browse up high through the openings in the mesh.

Definitely not a result of snow damage or winter sun. Protection from sun, wind and low temperatures afforded by the snow is the most likely reason why the bottoms look better than the tops.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 6:27AM
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Given that the burlap covered bushes show very little damage and small critters could easily get under the burlap, I guess I gotta go with deer. D---! you'd think they'd get poked in the nose by the twigs they already bit.

I still want to lean toward some other factor: a couple of winters ago I fenced the area where the azaleas are -- and I noticed the twig damage then too, maybe not as bad as in this example. Alas, I experience this kind of damage every year. Luckily the bushes have always come back. Maybe I'll build boards into a little house for each bush for next year. with my luck I'll probably spot a deer out there with a small foot/hoof jack lifting up the boxes...

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 4:27PM
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