Are Your Evergreen Shrubs (Azaleas, Boxwoods, etc.) Turning Brown/Yellow?

Many homeowners that didn’t protect their Evergreens with Anti-Desiccants this winter are starting to see the signs of Winter Burn. Our Arborists report seeing a lot of shrubs around the DC Metro area suffering from winter burn and getting a lot of calls from clients that are experiencing winter burn on their shrubs.

Susceptible Species:  Winter burn is commonly seen on Boxwoods and Azaleas in our area; however, hollies, rhododendrons, cherry laurels, and aucuba are all prone to winter burn as well.

What Is Winter Burn:

Trees and shrubs lose moisture through their pores which are located on their leaves/needles. During the winter months, the dry air and wind accelerate this process leading to leaves increasing their water demand from the roots in order to survive. However, the root system usually has a hard time keeping up with the leaves’ demands. The result: leaves and needles turning brown and dying. This cycle is called winter burn, or desiccation and is mostly likely what caused your boxwoods/azalea to turn brown or yellowish this winter/early spring.

Besides the unappealing aesthetics, your tree will also be more susceptible to insects and diseases this spring/summer because it is already stressed from the winter burn.

Need Help With Winter Burn Damage?

Or Call 703.573.3029

Can I Fix Winter Burn Damage?

Although you can’t bring back dead or desiccated foliage you can promote healthy new foliage that will make your shrubs look better and mask the desiccated foliage. The best way to promote healthy new foliage is to give your shrubs the nutrients they need.

Bio-Stimulants: Bio-stimulants are a natural blend of sugars, bacteria, humic acid, sea kelp extract, and fungi. By introducing this blend to the critical root zone you will promote root and foliage growth. Bio-stimulants will also promote greener leaves (making it easier to hid the desiccated foliage) and improve the plant’s resistance to diseases, insects, and environmental stressors.

Proper Watering: In order for your shrubs to grow thriving new foliage and combat the stress they incurred over the winter you need to make sure they get enough water this spring and summer. Follow our watering tips below to ensure your shrubs gets the water they need.

  • Focus on the critical root zone when watering. Wetting foliage is a waste of water and can promote the spread of diseases.
  • DON’T use a sprinkler.This only wets the top layer of soil and doesn’t properly water the tree.
  • Water in the morning to avoid evaporation and to help trees deal with the heat throughout the day.
  • Water deeply and thoroughly1 to 2 times a week.
    • Put your normal hose somewhere in the critical root zone.
    • Turn hose on to a dribble
    • Leave for 2-3 hours
    • Move the hose to a different spot in the critical root zone and leave for 2-3 hours. Repeat this step 1-3 times.
  • You want the soil to be moist but not soaking. You should NOT be able to make a mud ball out of the soil.
  • It’s okay for some portions of the soil to be wet and some to be dry.

Learn More About Proper Watering

Prevent Winter Burn Next Year:

Winter BurnYou can prevent your Boxwoods and Azaleas from getting winter burn in the first place by treating them with 1-2 Anti-Desiccant treatment in late fall/early winter. Anti-desiccants coat the upper and lower foliage in a protective wax coating reducing the moisture lost through the leaves. Similar to the moisturizers, lotions, and humidifiers we use to keep our skin hydrated in the winter, anti-desiccants provide trees & shrubs with the protection they need to flourish during winter instead of fighting to survive. On an aesthetic note, this means no more brown and dying evergreens! But the benefits don’t stop there; protection from anti-desiccants also lead to improved overall health.


  • Protection from winter burn: Leaves turning brown and dying.
  • Protection from drought stress
  • Protection from leaf scorch
  • Helps trees suffering from root system issues
  • Makes trees look brighter and shinier/Adds a polished look to your landscape.
  • Protects from de-icing salt damage
  • It’s Eco-Friendly (100% Organic & Biodegradable)

Learn More About Anti-Desiccants

Next Steps

If you have a Canopy Protection Plan with Anti-Dessicants proposed just approve you program here and RTEC will make sure they avoid winter burn next year!

If you have evergreens but no Anti-Dessicants on your Canopy Protection Program call our office at 703.573.3029 or email us at to inquire about adding it to your program. 

Want an arborist to take a look at your evergreens and talk about winter burn? Schedule an appointment to meet with one of our Certified Arborists. 

One thought on “Are Your Evergreen Shrubs (Azaleas, Boxwoods, etc.) Turning Brown/Yellow?”

  1. Bo says:

    Thanks for this informative write-up. I was wondering what was going on with my bushes… now I know.

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