Extreme cold causes Lexington plants to get ‘winterburn’
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky is a state known for its rolling hills of green, but recently, you may have noticed a shift in some of your plants’ health.
Bushes and shrubs have been grappling with long-term damage from the extreme cold in December, allowing some shrubbery like boxwoods to obtain "winterburn."
“It’s just like if you go out on a really, really cold day, you end up getting that red face, even though it’s not super sunny. It’sit’s because your skin has a hard time hydrating. You’ve got a low water content in the air around you. As the wind blows around you, it sucks the moisture out of your skin. Well, the same thing happens with plants,” said Joe Ellis with Sunshine Grow Shop.
This past Christmas, Lexington endured wind chills as low as 35 degrees and had more than 24 straight hours below zero. The effects of winterburn often take months to show themselves, allowing plants in the area to begin to brown as late as April.
In intense cold periods, the soil around some plants can freeze, cutting off the water supply and drying out the plants. This lack of water content doesn’t cause any immediate concern, but in periods of sun exposure, Boxwoods can "burn," allowing for the leaves of the plant to die and shrivel into a brown color.
Ellis recommends pruning affected plants to smaller levels to welcome new growth.
“If you have live growth at the bottom, you have a really large root ball and a very small population to feed and nourish. So what’s going to happen is that the root ball is going to keep it very well hydrated, very well nourished, and the top will grow much, much faster than you will have ever even imagined,” said Ellis.
Ellis says researching greenery before you plant will contribute to a lush green yard most of the year round. In regards to the damaged plants with proper care, Kentuckians have nothing to worry about.
“In about three years’ time, whether you cut it back or you plant new, you are going to have around the same size landscape plant,” Ellis said.
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