Antidesiccants: Smart Winter Protection for Your Evergreens

For those of us who spend lots of time outdoors throughout the fall and winter, we understand the importance of using good protective skin creams to “lock in moisture” during the cold months.

And what’s good for us is good for our greenery – especially the evergreens, whose leaves are exposed to the elements all winter long.

The buffeting from wind, snow, and ice cause evergreen leaves and stems to lose moisture, or desiccate. In addition, because the frozen ground prevents the plant’s roots from drawing up water from the soil, it has to use the moisture stored in its leaves and stems instead. That “double whammy” of dehydration can lead to sunscald, windburn or — in extreme cases — plant death.

What to do? The application of an antidesiccant spray to evergreens provides a thin protective coating over the leaf stomata (the leaf’s pores) that helps reduce water loss during the stress of wintry weather. The product is gradually washed and worn away, so by springtime it’s gone.

Antidesiccants are most often used on broadleaf evergreens (such as azalea, boxwood, holly, and rhododendron), and sometimes conifers (such as arborvitae, cedar, cypress, juniper, and pine). (Note: antidesiccants should not be used on waxy-blue conifers such as blue spruce, since they already have a natural coating that could be harmed by antidesiccant products.)

Timing is crucial when applying antidesiccants. We suggest spraying in late fall/early winter — when the plant has entered its dormant phase, but before temperatures consistently dip below freezing. The leaves need to be dry to allow the antidesiccant to adhere, and then the product needs ample time to dry — so spray during dry weather.

With the proper antidesiccant protection, your evergreens will better withstand the winter.

Ask us about SavATree exclusive ArborGuard,® a polymer antidesiccant.