Do I need to wrap my cedar trees?

krystine(5AOntario)November 5, 2005

Hi everyone,

First year gardener here...

I purchased 12 or so emerald cedar trees this summer when they were on sale at Wal-mart and got them in the ground in mid/late September. They are probably knee high now.

I see people wrapping their cedar trees in burlap, preparing for winter. Is this something I should be doing?

Thanks in advance from a newbie,

Kristine

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glen3a(Winnipeg MB 3A)

Kristine,

Opinions vary on whether or not to wrap and even how to wrap. Normally, you shouldn't have to wrap because emerald cedar (thuja occidentalis 'smargd') is definitely hardy to your zone.

Having said that, however, there are a few reasons why you might want to wrap them, at least for the first couple of winters.

They are newly planted, and as such, likely don't have an extensive root system, a root system that runs beyond the original planting holes into the surrounding soil of your yard.

If they were sitting in a pot most of the summer, this might have stressed as well. You probably kept them well watered while in the pot, but I know places like walmart are known for letting their plants get bone dry.

Some people do 'baby' their cedars for the first winter or two, until they are more established. Wrapping need not be complicated. I had a small cedar and I just push two bamboo stakes into the ground on each side of them making an upside down 'V' over the plant and wrapped burlap around this. Held in place with clothes pins. If you use three bamboo stakes you might make a teepee over the plant. What ever you do, I find the stakes help hold the burlap because the weight of the burlap might bend the small cedar over. The stakes also limit the amount of burlap that directly touches the foliage.

Another method is just to make a screen to shade the cedars for winter. For example, drive two stakes in the ground on the south side of the plants and staple a burlap 'curtain'. Apparently it's the sun that does the most damage so shading them helps.

What ever you decide to do, make sure you water them well and regularly (if they dry out) from now until the soil freezes. When it snows, carefully mounding light fluffy snow around the base of the trees help as well.

Glen

    Bookmark   November 5, 2005 at 12:35PM
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krystine(5AOntario)

Thanks very much Glen :) I'll do the teepee method you suggested and make sure I water regularly until the ground's frozen.

Take care,

Kristine

    Bookmark   November 5, 2005 at 2:23PM
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ianna(Z5b)

Wrapping is also used to prevent snow from accumulating on the branches and causing breakage due to heavy snow.

Having said that, I don't wrap my trees. I keep mine small and pruned (topiary style) and so far they've survived well.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2005 at 4:19PM
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tiffy_z5_6_can(5/6)

I like the clothes pin idea!! Easy to put on and take off.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2005 at 6:57PM
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badavy13_yahoo_ca

Hi
I recently purchased a 2 year old home with small cedar trees. They are brown around the bottoms.
Should I be wrapping them being that I live in Winnipeg? Is there anything else I could do to help them along?
Thanks

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 10:51PM
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ianna(Z5b)

These are probably okay. They are probably brown only in the areas that do not receive sunlight. Just mulch and give them a good watering. Next year do regular watering to make it healthier and probably top dress it with some good composted soil.

As for wrapping, if you fear the plant will experience breakage due to snow accumulating on its branches, then do the wrapping. In most cases, cedars are conical shaped which are perfect for shedding snow, which is why I don't do these things.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 10:29AM
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nico6196(Z5a)

Just to add to this question rather than creating a new post, what about yews? I planted three new yews in early August and need to know if they need winter protection. TIA

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 7:06PM
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sharont(z5 can)

These cedars are so adaptable!
I haven't wrapped or artificially protected any of the 'Emeralds' I've purchased over the years from 12" babies to knee high shrubs! In dry spots to wet spots they grow on beautifully. But I do think snow cover may be the reason as we get lots of the white stuff here around Georgian Bay!

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 9:46AM
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ianna(Z5b)

Nico

I have a row of young yew shrubs (Hick's yews for hedging) and generally speaking these are very hardy plants, but since these were just planted last summer, I did do some mulching. It wont be necessary once fully established. I did nothing else.

Last winter however we experienced a great deal of snow and as a result, many branches of these plants splayed out and eventually cracked as a result. No serious harm done and since these are very hardy plants, they recovered fully by summer. This experience though made me decide to bundle the young shrubs to prevent snow from causing such breakage again. I'm using simple twine and don't see the need to burlap my plants. However burlaping is still a good idea for yews that are large at the top.

Ianna

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 9:59AM
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tony_b_architect

Until last winter, I had a fine hedge of emerald cedars at my house in Grey County, Ontario. The cedars had grown tall and thickened nicely during the 10 years since they were planted. Then came the longest, snowiest, coldest winter on record. White cedar must taste bad to deer because it remains untouched and grows abundantly in the wild. Emerald cedar, however, must taste nice because hungry white tailed deer devoured all the foliage of my emerald cedars which was not either protected by snow at the base, or beyond their reach at the top. On the advice of an arborist, I removed the upper part of each cedar, to prevent the growth of ugly topknots and to encourage new growth from the base. This winter, I'm definitely wrapping!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 1:19PM
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glen3a(Winnipeg MB 3A)

It was interesting reading about yews. I had one planted here, zone 3, and it definitely needed wrapping, and with a good blanket, not just burlap. But that was for zone 3. Also, it helped that it had a good planting spot (part sun in summer, total shade in winter).

I think another thing to consider in whether to wrap cedars is the planting location. Here the hardier ones need no wrapping, as long as they are in a part shade sheltered location which isn't so hard to do in a small city yard.

I've seen cedars, however, winter damaged beyond hope just outside the city, as people tried to plant them to make a hedge along side the highway, a very sunny, windswept location.

Also, I have a cedar on the south side of the house which I wrap every year. The sun reflects off the house stucco in winter, particularily late winter/early spring, and the plant is more susceptible to damage in this location.

Glen

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 3:27AM
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zuni(5a)

A post script: Do you really want burlap mummies gracing your front yard for half the year? Except for the deer problem, there is no reason to have burlap sacks wrapped around your landscape plants.

To prevent heavy snow from splaying out the branches, loosely wrap green twine in a spiral around conical-shaped evergreens. Water thoroughly just before the ground freezes, and add a layer of mulch AFTER the ground freezes.

And finally, buy trees that are grown locally. Emerald cedars in particular require plenty of water and fertilizer to continue to look good. It's what they are used to out on the WEST COAST, which is where they are typically grown. Better to find a local grower and local plants!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 9:59PM
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Mindstorm1

For the last 7 years, i have wrapped my two junipers (which are now over 5 feet tall,) for the winter in burlap. Last year a bunny decided to make the bottom of one of the trees its home and sat on a branch for the wnter. When i took off the burlap, the branch started to fall down and i had no choice but to cut it off. I am afraid if i wrap it again, that a bunny or otherwise will still get in under the burlap and make it a home.

I was covering the trees to prevent snow from piling on top.

Any suggestion would be appreciated.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 3:17PM
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ninamarie(4Ont.)

What's the point of an evergreen that you have to wrap?

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 10:56AM
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ianna(Z5b)

I have left my cedars unwrapped and not twined with no adverse problems. However I have tried to protect my yews with twine before until i realized, it's just pointless. I love seeing snow on evergreens anyway.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 3:59PM
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madtripper(5/6 Guelph)

to better understand the purpose of wrapping plants in winter, see this site:

http://www.gardenmyths.com/tag/winter-protection/

I am the author of this site.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 11:41PM
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pratch

I have a dwarf cedar in a black pot composed of a blend of natural stone, resin and fiberglass. It is on a south facing stoop and can't be moved. From what I've been reading this is not ideal for the roots of the plant. Should I worry?

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 7:52AM
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ianna(Z5b)

pratch, the only concern would be that the roots are not as protected from the freezing winter. But then potted trees (think bonsai) can survive in pots for as long as these are in a protected area. The composition of the container wont' matter. Its the soil, the drainage, the oxygenation that would matter. some people practise insulating their containers with styrofoam. It's just a way to keep temperatures constant. Cedars (assuming it's hardy in your zone) are good in pots. I

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 11:43AM
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pratch

Thanks for the reply! So far so good this year, but I have also been wondering about watering, obviously no water when it snowy and freezing but we had a fair number of quite warm weeks with rain. Should I be giving my cedar water?

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 10:32AM
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ianna(Z5b)

The plant will get it's moisture from the snow. Is it in a completely covered area (roofed)? Being that it's an evergreen and a tree- the answer is yes it requires water. Cedars are heavy drinkers in fact so in the summer your plant will need regular watering.

I thought it was exposed to the elements despite being on the stoop because the snowmelt would be sufficient.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 12:56PM
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pratch

The tree is on a stoop but it is protected somewhat and doesn't get the same amount of rain or snow as falls. So when it snows I usually add a little extra snow. We've had a few strange warm (50 degrees F) weeks and the tree was looking a bit sad so I gave it some extra water, but it sounds like you're saying they don't need as much as in the summer so I will back off. Thanks again for your helpful information.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 10:37PM
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