Tips for Using Anti-desiccants and Dormant Oils
Trees and shrubs suffer major stress during the dormant season of freezing temperatures, heavy snow, strong winds and ice storms. Believe it or not, during this time, water loss is the most common threat to plantings. The frozen ground doesn’t allow plants to draw up essential water, resulting in leaves being forced to sacrifice their stored moisture.
In addition, these harsh conditions have the possibility to draw out even more moisture from the plant’s leaves, causing windburn, sunscald and even casualties. This mainly affects broad leaf evergreen shrubs such as rhododendrons, hollies, boxwoods, aucuba, camelia and certain laurels, especially newly transplanted and young trees.
How can you prevent this from happening? DiSabatino Landscaping suggests treating broad leaf evergreens with a natural polymer anti-desiccent. When applied correctly, these anti-desiccants slow the loss of water and protect the structure of plants. Anti-desiccants are compounds that create a layer around leaf pores, locking in moisture and minimizing water loss. To be the most effective, these sprays should be applied now, in the late fall / early winter when temperatures are above freezing.
For extra protection, you can add stakes and burlap around trees and shrubs to prevent breakage from heavy snow and act as a buffer from strong, freezing winds.
The Benefits of Dormant Oils:
Dormant oils were developed centuries ago to combat stubborn scale and mite infestations on fruit trees. They were heavy and unrefined, making them unsafe for use on woody plants after they have broken winter dormancy.
Dormant oils are especially useful for killing overwintering eggs of insects that curl leaves in the spring, such as aphids. These dormant oils kill pests by blocking spiracles through which they breathe or interfering with their metabolism. DiSabatino Landscaping suggests applying dormant oils to all woody plant species, as it preventatively controls insects before they present in the spring. It will help to protect from mites, scale, aphids and caterpillars.
In addition to preventing insect infestation, dormant oils help to control several common plant diseases. When applied by professionals, these oils can save homeowners from the time and expense of having to replace shrubs that have been lost to disease.
DiSabatino Landscaping offers an Integrated Pest Management Program that is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest control using organic products to control insects and diseases. As one of the safest pest management applications, it also does not harm beneficial insects or interfere with their life cycles
It is also not too late to fertilize in November. A large number of landscape shrubs and plants are not native to the areas where they have been planted, and struggle adapting to their new environment. Newly installed plants have not had the chance to establish a root system and must compete with the surrounding lawn for necessary nutrients. This is why fertilization is so essential. It allows plants to gain the nutrients and moisture needed during dry summer months and colder ground temperatures, adding an extra layer of security for the health of your trees and plantings.