Winter Damage

This winter’s weather was a repeat of last year’s.  The frequent snows and frigid temperatures resulted in a layer of snow covering the ground continuously for over two months!   Fortunately the snows weren’t the heavy wet kind that snaps tree limbs and crushes shrubs, so structural damage should be light.  However, the cold, dry winds caused considerable damage to the leaves of many evergreen shrubs.

Yews and arborvitae that may have bent over from the weight of snow should straighten on their own.  Pachysandra and other ground covers should be fine, as should most perennials.  Lawns might exhibit patches of pink snow fungus here and there as a result of being buried under the snow for so long, but temperatures were generally too consistently cold for this to be a big issue.

Below is a summary of the plants most likely to have suffered some winter damage this year:



Hydrangeas – Last year a mid-April freeze did more damage to the stems than the winter did and destroyed most of the stems that would have given us summer flowers last year. If we don’t get another late freeze, hopefully the upper buds along the stems, which will produce most of this summer’s flowers, survived the winter.


Crape-myrtle ‘Red-Rocket’

Crape myrtles – Expect them to leaf out very late (maybe not till June) and maybe not the whole tree at once, so don’t give up on any branches if the tissue under the bark is still green. To find out, scrape 1/4″ of the bark away with a sharp knife to reveal the tissue underneath.  If it’s a juicy green, the branch is still alive.


Skip laurel

Rhodos, Azaleas, Skip laurels – May have pockets of wilted-looking leaves or outright dead branches. These won’t recover and will need to be cut off.  On other branches some leaves might be half-burned and will linger into late summer before they finally fall off and get replaced by new leaves.

Evergreen shrubs near the street – Leaf tips facing the street might turn brown from the salt spray kicked up by passing cars and plows.  Browning might not appear until late April and will have to be sheared off.

Fig trees – If they survived last year but just barely, they might not be strong enough to get through a second bad winter in a row and might be dead this spring.

Euonymus 'Manhattan'

Euonymus ‘Manhattan’

Holly 'Nellie-Stevens'

Holly ‘Nellie-Stevens’

Evergreen Euonymus shrubs and ‘Nellie Stevens’ Holly trees – The existing leaves are pretty well burned up and will all fall off, but if the buds at the bases of the leaves are  green, then the first flush of new growth in the spring will bring on fresh new leaves.

Shrub Roses – Will die back further down than usual. Need to be cut back hard and dead stems removed, but the plants should be fine.

Shrub Roses

Shrub Roses

Any type of evergreen close to a street – Might have browning of leaf tips on the street side of the shrub due to salt spray kicked up off the street from passing cars and plows.  Browning foliage might not be evident until late April and will have to be sheared off to improve the appearance of the shrub.

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