How do I protect our Azalea this winter?

edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)September 25, 2013

Nursed this back from the dead a few years ago when we bought the house. Now, every winter it takes a beating with about 3 feet of tundra-like snowpack (we live in the snowbelt,) and temps as low as 0F, for 3 months. Haven't been protecting it, but this spring it was flat and brown in the spring and didn't perk up 'til summer. Is there a simple and inexpensive way to protect it during the winter? Thanks. Ed.

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akamainegrower

Anything you can do to protect the plant from sun and wind will help - evergreen boughs, burlap screens, etc. Deep snow, however, is an excellent insulator, so I'm guessing that the damage takes place mostly before snowfall. This would suggest that evergreen boughs would be your best bet. They will protect from sun and wind in early winter then create an airspace around the plant when snow does arrive.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 5:07AM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

I like the idea of burlap or evergreens. Yes snow is an excellent insulator, but 'heavy dense snow-pack' isn't. This gets snow off of the roof, and it becomes a solid glacier-like mass on top of it. Very heavy and it smashes the azalea against the ground and presses it. Everything is great for the few early snowfalls, but as the winter progresses the damage occurs. I have some scrap plywood around that I can add a couple of hinges and make an "A" frame type cover to protect it if I need to.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 2:59PM
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akamainegrower

Under these conditions, an A frame protector is a very good idea. It probably will have to be pretty substantial to stand up to snow/ice sliding off the roof. Moving the plant to a more favorable place may be the best option in the long run - evergreen azaleas are difficult in very cold climates to begin with and winter after winter of coping with ice pack, even with protection, will likely never result in a happy azalea.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 5:40AM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

OK, will try a protector. The plant has been doing great with my TLC compared to the little dead stick it was 4 years ago. Any additional protection has to help even more. I'll give it a shot and see how it goes. Thanks. Ed

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 12:54PM
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