Managing Plants in the Cold and Snow  

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With Kansas’s cold weather and snow, there are a few things to consider for plant protection. First, snow is a good thing! In addition to bringing moisture, snow that sticks around serves as insulation against colder temperatures and desiccating wind. For small shrubs and perennials, leave snow where it lands to protect them from further injury and provide winter moisture when it melts. Evergreen trees and shrubs, particularly Arborvitae and plants with multiple leading stems, may need to have heavy snow loads knocked off to prevent breakage.

When clearing snow from paved surfaces, avoid piling it onto plants or near plants sensitive to salty runoff or splashing from vehicles. Parking lots are often cleared by pushing snow into large piles- make sure not to pile snow on top of low-growing plants or in a way that crushes plants or damages tree trunks. Large piles of snow take a long time to melt, and evergreen plants need to photosynthesize in the winter so avoid burying them under a mountain of snow.

Chemical treatments used to prevent human falls on hard surfaces can be detrimental to ornamentals and pets. Consider alternative de-icing salts like calcium chloride and calcium magnesium acetate and follow the label instructions. Sand can also help provide traction.

Cheryl Boyer, Extension Agent

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