Cold Comfort

Winter arrived earlier than usual in the Tri-State this year, yet most plants that grow and thrive in this area are accustomed to the changing seasons. As cold weather approaches, the plants go dormant for the winter months and begin to grow again when temperatures start rising in the spring. Still, winter can damage plants, and that damage can be visible in the spring.

Wind and Cold Temperatures
Every plant has a different tolerance for the cold and the wind. Most trees, shrubs, and perennials that are sold in local garden centers grow well in this climate, but there are some plants that can be more sensitive to the weather than others. If you are unaware of a plant’s needs, it is always important to know the needs of and the growth habit of a plant before planting it. Certain delicate plants need to be protected from the harsh winter winds. Cold winds also can impact plants, mainly evergreen trees and shrubs. Generally, the trees will recover from the damage, but the winds can sometimes stunt the future growth of the plant.  

Ice and Snow
Plants are tough and will generally recover from the weight of snow and ice, though piles of snow can cause perennials and grasses to rot out because of the amount of weight and water. For certain delicate plants, clearing off the snow can reduce damage. Once the snow and ice are gone, corrective pruning may be necessary to remove any broken branches and to keep the plant healthy and thriving.  

Salt applied to sidewalks can affect plant health, though salt damage usually is not seen until the spring or summer. Salt is a chemical compound and is easily absorbed into water, and when plants take up the water, the chemicals in salt can collect in the plant causing stunted yellow growth, leaf scorch, and twig dieback.

Brian Wildeman is a landscape architect at Landscapes by Dallas Foster Inc., 825 Canal St. He can be reached at 812-882-0719 and

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