Catherine Nickelson | Horticulturist | Arborist
Posted 03/11/2020

Winter weather in Minnesota is harsh. Sub-zero temperatures for days on end, sunless days and long nights, and the worst – stinging Arctic winds. Everything scurries for cover from these blasts. Even native Minnesotans hunch and bundle when the stinging winds hit. It feels as though warmth is sucked right out of the body. Not isolated to people and animals, this problem is very real for our beautiful evergreens; we call it winter desiccation.

Winter desiccation is the removal of water from leaves in winter. For deciduous trees and shrubs this is not an issue as they have long since dropped their leaves. Evergreens, however, keep their leaves or needles all winter. During these months, trees are not actively transpiring, moving water from the roots up to the leaves to replenish what was lost. Therefore, if the existing moisture is removed the leaves or needles are left brown and dead or at least dead-looking. Desiccation is at its worst on windy days; water is blown right out of the leaves.

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