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Is My Shrub Dead?

Is My Shrub Dead?

By Kristina Howley, Proven Winners® ColorChoice®
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners® ColorChoice®

There’s not much that is more satisfying than seeing your garden plants emerge after they have been asleep for the long winter months. However, most gardeners know that when springtime comes, plants can wake up at very different times. That said, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way you could check to see if your favorite shrub made it through the winter well before it leafs out? You can! Read on as Kristina at Proven Winners® ColorChoice® shrubs shows you how to check your dormant plants for signs of life in three easy steps.

GardenSMART Article Image

GardenSMART Article Image

Step 1 – Scrape test

Take a pair of pruners or a knife and scrape a stem. Check the spot to see if it has green or tan underneath. Green means your plant is still alive (left). Light tan means the branch is dead (right). If your scrape reveals tan, try another branch. Sometimes a branch or two will have died back, but the rest of the plant is fine.

GardenSMART Article Image

GardenSMART Article Image

Step 2 – Bend stems

Take a stem and hold it in two places. Gently bend it and if the stem is rounded, it’s likely still alive. If it snaps easily, that one is dead. Check another stem. 

GardenSMART Article Image

GardenSMART Article Image

Step 3 – Growth check

Keep an eye out for growth at the base of the shrub. There are times when the top has died back, but the roots are alive to push up new growth from the base (left). This can take time. So wait a few weeks before you dig up your plant.

If video helps you work through a problem a little easier, check out our how-to here.

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GardenSMART Featured Article

By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Flowers
Photographs courtesy of Suntory Flowers

Now is the time to shop for annuals that will go the distance all summer. Suntory Flowers has a portfolio of gorgeous varieties that thrive in the heat. To learn more, click here for an interesting article.

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