My Evergreens AREN’T! Are They Dead?

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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cottontail rabbit sitting in clover looking into the woods.

Who Ate My Plants?! Thoughts on Rodent Damage

Catherine Nickelson | Horticulturist | Arborist
Posted 06/07/2018

Rodents are an order of mammals with a large pair of continually growing front teeth. This includes mice, squirrels, voles, gophers, beavers, capybaras, and many others. Some of whom have a voracious appetite for everything beautifully growing in your garden. Rabbits have these same characteristics, continuously growing front teeth and desire for garden plants, but they are not taxonomically considered rodents as rabbits possess four incisors rather than two. However, for the purposes of this discussion we will consider rodents and rabbits together and classify the plant injury each of these mammals cause as rodent damage. Rodent damage is the injury inflicted when mice, voles, squirrels, gophers, or rabbits gnaw on or consume parts or all of a plant. These pests go after the plants for food and to wear down their teeth preventing them from growing too long. Rodents and rabbits target a wide range of species including woody plants, turf, and herbaceous plants (perennials); the damage caused can range from fatal to insignificant but with careful planning and maintenance the issue of rodent damage can be managed.

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