Winter can be blamed for a lot of plant problems. This year we are noticing plant damage mainly with some grasses, some roses, and Clethra. This past winter we had a lot of snow cover in the Midland area. Snow cover is good for plants because it protects them from the harsh winds and sun of winter. Unfortunately this past winter, the snow cover lasted until about mid winter and then we had a warm spell that melted all the snow. Shortly after that, we received some really cold weather that zapped the plants. If the snow cover had lasted, the plants would have been fine, but being exposed to that cold snap with out the cover caused a lot of winter kill and die back. This can simply be pruned out.
Another type of damage that happened this past winter was rodent damage. The snow started falling in November and lasted until June (just kidding) I think it was finally all gone by April. With the exception of the above melting, there was a lot of snow for a long time. The rabbits, voles, mice, and deer ran out of food. The deer ate plants they don’t usually eat like Holly and upright junipers. The rabbits chewed off the tips of branches a lot higher up on the plant than they usually can reach. The voles and moles, made their homes under plants like low growing junipers, and stripped the bark off of the branches which caused the branches to be girdled and die.
Is there a solution to these problems? Well mouse bait, fences and repellents are the only things that help, unfortunately they need to be applied before the damage occurs. Next year if you had problems in any of these areas this year, you need to put these physical barriers and poisons in place prior to the start of winter. It just goes to show you, it’s always something.