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Winter damage on conifer shrub

Posted by sevimo 5/6 (My Page) on
Fri, May 16, 14 at 19:02

Hi everyone, we recently moved into a new house with nice landscaping, but after brutal winter here in Toronto (I believe this is zone 6 Canadian, or zone 5 US). it clearly needs some love. There are a few conifer shrubs that exhibit (winter?) damage. Can you tell me what this shrub is? Foliage looks like arborvitae, but we're new to this.

One of the shrubs is completely yellow/white after winter, while for others damage is partial. What can be done?

Will it come back, do I need to prune out all the damaged parts? What to do with the one that is completely yellow?

Thanks a lot!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Winter damage on conifer shrub

Close-up of the live branch...

RE: Winter damage on conifer shrub

Shrub with partial damage...

RE: Winter damage on conifer shrub


Thanks for posting the photos. I'm new here and cannot answer your question but I have noticed many conifers in my area (z5, MI), mostly junipers and pines, seem to have the same problem. This seems to have impacted not only newly planted conifers but older established plants too.

There is a large empty field near where I live, exposed to western winds, and it's covered with eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana), red pine (Pinus resinosa), and a few Austrian pine (Pinus nigra). I drove past it the other day and noticed the majority of the plants in that field were at least partly brown. Not just a few needles or branches but entire parts of trees. It was a severe winter with well below normal temps, above average snowfall, and lots of windy days. Farmers here said the ground was frozen solid 5 feet below the surface, compared to 2 or 3 feet in a typical winter. Many people in my area had frozen water pipes as well.

More experienced members can give you better advice but with the ground frozen for long periods of time I'm guessing that the plants simply couldn't get enough water and many suffered from winter dessication or "winter burn". That's just a theory and may or may not be correct.


RE: Winter damage on conifer shrub

first ones dead .. no hope

second can be pruned.. but i would give it about another month ... as my z5 MI garden is at least a month late this year ... most likely all the brown will have to be pruned off ...

its the freeze thaw cycle of sun.. and cold blistering winds ... in the dead of winter ..... winter dessication ... think of chicken left in the freezer too long.. the moisture was pulled out of the leaf tissue ...

it was just a bad winter ..


RE: Winter damage on conifer shrub

Thanks a lot guys, I'll certainly wait on the second one. So should I replace the first one, or can I cut back all the top, and hope for the new growth? Does this rejuvenation pruning ever work with conifers (I suppose not)?

Is there anything that I can do to prevent such damage in the future, except windshields and anti-desiccant sprays (do these work?)

And can you please confirm what plant is that? It's embarrassing, but for many plants in our new garden I do not know their names ;)

Thanks again!

RE: Winter damage on conifer shrub

They just seem like Arborvitae shrubs far as I can tell. There shouldn't have to be anything you should do for winter to help them except knock off heavy wet snow which can damage branches.

In any event I would think the ornamental value of these shrubs is probably gone. The taller one is well beyond saving. If they did grow again it would take years to look decent. They seem to be in tight spaces, and I'm guessing they do not get full sun. Arborvitae are not great shade trees.

I would remove them. Take the opportunity to plant something new in your nice yard this spring, maybe something more appropriate for the spaces. Wouldn't be expensive to replace them anyway.

This post was edited by noki on Sat, May 17, 14 at 22:22

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