WSU Extension


Common Cultural Problems
Air pollution 
Construction damage 
Desiccating wind 
Drought damage 
Fertilizer burn 
Frost injury 
Hail damage 
Lime-induced chlorosis 
Marginal leaf necrosis 
Morphological changes 
Mosses and lichens 
Needle loss 
Needle tip necrosis 
Nutrient deficiency 
Overwatering or poor drainage 
Plant girdling and circling roots 
Poor pollination 
Salt damage 
Transplant shock 
Winter desiccation 
Winter injury 

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Caption: Cedar damaged by desiccating wind
Photo by: R.S. Byther
Common Cultural : Winter desiccation
(revision date: 4/30/2013)

Plants may become desiccated (dehydrated) on sunny, cold winter days when the ground and roots are frozen. The plant is unable to take up sufficient moisture from the frozen soil to replace water lost through the leaves and stems. Damage usually occurs on the south and southwest side of the plant which receives the most direct sunlight.
Management Options

Non-Chemical Management
  • Select plants hardy for the local climate and soil conditions, especially native plants.
  • Do not fertilize, prune, or water heavily late in the season. This can encourage late-season growth that may not acclimate well in the fall.
  • Apply loose organic mulch over the root zone to maintain soil moisture and give protection from cold temperatures.
  • Place evergreens in areas that minimize their exposure to sun and wind. If this is not possible, provide shading or a windbreak during the winter months.
  • Wrap trunks of recently transplanted trees with a white or light-color bark-wrap in the fall, especially younger trees or ones with dark bark.
Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

Chemical Management

None recommended


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Caption: Cedar damaged by desiccating wind
Photo by: R.S. Byther
Caption: Winter scorch on fir
Photo by: G.A. Chastagner
Caption: Winter desiccation on spruce
Photo by: R.S. Byther
Caption: Winter desiccation on rhododendron
Photo by: R. Maleike