Dormant trees and shrubs, especially evergreens, continue to lose moisture even in the coldest winter periods. The rate of water loss increases with fluctuating temperatures, drying winds, and full sunlight. Trees and shrubs, planted in low quality upland soils that are not holding soil moisture and that are exposed to harsh winds, are particularly susceptible to winter desiccation. Damage appears as brown needles and leaves (especially on the windward side) on evergreens and dry and brittle branches that do not leaf out on deciduous plants.
Anti-Desiccants can be particularly helpful for broadleaf evergreens and coniferous evergreens. Anti-desiccant sprays work by preventing the normal release of water from leaves and needles. Although your plants and trees are dormant in winter, evergreen shrubs and trees are still transpiring (releasing water through their leaves). This is part of their normal function, although they do it at a greatly reduced rate in winter compared to the growing season. Think of it like hibernating animals; even while deeply asleep they’re still alive and breathing, but so slowly that it’s hardly noticeable. Anti-desiccants are generally sprayed on the plants they’re intended to protect. The sprays contain waxes that coat the exposed surfaces of foliage and need to be uniformly and thoroughly applied in order to work.
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