Signs & Symptoms of Winter Burn

Although we're still getting some chilly days, warmer weather will soon be here to stay!  And while that is good news for us, for some of the evergreen plants in your landscape. . .it can mean trouble.

I'm talking about winter burn (also known as winter desiccation), which occurs when the air temperature warms up, but the ground remains frozen. Sometimes, on very windy or sunny days, plants can't absorb enough water from the ground to replace water they lose through their leaves.  


  • One side of the plant may turn brown
  • Tips of leaves and needles turn brown
  • Plants drop their leaves

Quick Fixes:

  • Find some way to shade and protect the tree from wind and sun until the ground warms
  • Water the plant on very sunny or windy days in early spring

Permanent Solutions:

  • Do a deep watering in the fall, before the ground freezes
  • Water during warm days in the winter
  • Apply about a 2 inch layer of mulch around the plant 
  • Move the plant to a more protected location

The good news? Unless the plant is very young or in a particularly poor location, winter burn won't kill it.  So, if you have evergreens, take a walk around your property, inspect them, and give them a little extra TLC if they need it in the early days of spring.

Linda KelsoComment