Watering Evergreen Trees and Shrubs in Winter

Most of us think that because it’s winter, our evergreen trees and shrubs are dormant and don’t need any further care until spring.  If you follow that logic, you may find you have brown spots on your plants in the spring, or they will be beyond help.

Well Hydrated Roots

Evergreens keep their needles through the winter and in areas where winters are harsh, cold, snowy, and windy, our plants need extra water to survive.  Fluctuating temperatures, intense winter sun, dry air, and windy conditions all put stress on your plants.  If there is not enough water in the soil where the roots can take it up to support all the foliage, the needles will become very dry and brittle and turn brown.

Preparing for Winter

The best way to protect evergreens is to water them well and regularly in the fall and continue watering until the ground freezes. After that, check your evergreens whenever you have a warm spell.  When the ground begins to thaw, water your plants deeply.


Evergreens in containers will require a little more attention.  When they are in the ground, their roots are insulated by the surrounding soil.  In containers, however, they are exposed to the cold and wind.  Plants in clay pots are even more at risk because clay is so porous.

Protecting From Weather

There are several ways you can protect your potted evergreens.  You can move the containers into the garden before the ground freezes and bury them so soil can insulate them.  Another way is to make a circle of chicken wire or bubble wrap leaving enough room for leaves and cover the container and plant with shredded leaves which are very good insulators.


The containers should be placed in a location that is protected from the wind. After several hard freezes, move them to a sunny, protected spot close to a building or solid fence, or into an unheated garage or basement where the temperature stays between 20-30 degrees.  Water during winter thaws.







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