Dry conditions merit late season watering

Thank you Morton Arboretum! Read below for watering instructions before the ground freezes:

Eds Note: Photos Available
The Morton Arboretum Recommends Watering Evergreens Now
LISLE, IL (November 16, 2010) – As leaves dropped off trees this fall, something else dropped too: soil moisture. Amid the continuing dry spell, The Morton Arboretum urgently recommends that property owners water their evergreen trees and shrubs right now to maintain their health and vitality, and to guard against winter injury.

O’Hare International Airport received only 2.46 inches of rainfall since September 6, compared with the normal 6.59 inches, a deficit of 63 percent, according to National Weather Service (NWS) figures. The Arboretum, the NWS station for Lisle, IL received 2.95 inches of rain since September 6; a 57 percent deficit compared with the normal 6.8 inches.
“The soil is extremely dry,” says Doris Taylor, who heads the Arboretum Plant Clinic which provides free advice to the public on tree and shrub care.
Evergreen trees and shrubs “exhale” moisture 12 months a year. They require adequate water, even after other trees drop leaves, right until the ground freezes. A lack of moisture in the soil can leave plants without proper energy reserves for healthy growth next year. Also, as sun and winds dry out leaves (including evergreen needles) in winter, they are susceptible to winterburn, which shows up in the spring as brown and scorched leaves.
The Arboretum recommends property owners ensure that the top 12 inches of soil around evergreens is kept moist until the ground freezes. To help determine a soil’s moisture level, a homeowner might find that a metal rod or stiff wire is the most convenient tool. As the homeowner attempts to push the rod or wire into the ground, very dry soil will provide a great deal of resistance, and indicate the need for watering.
Certain types of evergreen plants are particularly drought-sensitive, including hemlocks, boxwoods, arborvitae, rhododendrons, hollies, and to a lesser extent: white pine.
Mulch is very helpful for conserving soil moisture. Organic mulch – such as long-lasting hardwood bark, composted hardwood chips and leaves – should be spread up to 4 inches thick around the tree. Keep the mulch from directly contacting the trunk. Avoid recycled plastic or rubber mulches – they do not provide nutrients and may create a barrier preventing oxygen and water from penetrating the soil.
The Morton Arboretum is a world-renowned leader in tree science and education, working to save and plant trees. The 1,700-acre outdoor museum features magnificent collections of 4,117 kinds of trees, shrubs, and other plants from around the world. The Arboretum’s beautiful natural landscapes, gardens, research and education programs, and year-round family activities support its mission – the planting and conservation of trees and other plants for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world. Conveniently located at I-88 and Rte. 53 in Lisle, Illinois, the Arboretum is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year, from 7 a.m. Central Time until sunset. The Children’s Garden is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., March through October, and 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., November through February. Visit Press Room at www.mortonarb.org, call to learn more.

Media Contacts: Gina Tedesco, (office) (630) 725-2103, gtedesco@mortonarb.org
Allison Phelps, (office) 630-719-5768, aphelps@mortonarb.org


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