Do Evergreens Grow in Winter? All Details Explained

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As the name suggests, evergreens stay green all year—they’ll thrive all year, survive the hottest summer months, and endure the chilly winter months. Evergreens make excellent choices for landscaping and privacy since they don’t completely lose foliage like deciduous trees. But do evergreens grow in winter?

Evergreens grow all year-round, including during winter. However, this plant species (both shrubs and trees) don’t actively grow in the colder months compared to other seasons. Nevertheless, they adapt differently to the harsh winter conditions without going into dormancy like deciduous trees.

This article will explore evergreen trees and how they survive winter’s frosty, dry weather conditions. You’ll also learn how to help the trees grow better throughout the year. So, keep reading.

Evergreens Have “Needles” That Help Them Survive Winter

Even in winter, evergreen trees don’t drop their foliage like deciduous trees. Under normal situations, their leaves will remain green and functional throughout the year.

How do they do this?

The answer lies in their leaves or “needles.” 

During winter, the ground freezes and prevents tree roots from reaching the water. It’s for this reason that leaf-dropping trees lose their leaves in the fall. The process is called abscission, and it helps preserve the water in the tree.

Okay, so what does all of this have to do with evergreens?

Evergreens have thin, long needles with waxy cuticles that prevent water loss. In winter, the tree doesn’t depend solely on the water in the ground to stay healthy and strong. Instead, it gets its water supply and energy from the needles. 

You can support these beautiful trees in your garden or landscape by sufficiently watering them in the fall.

What’s the Best Time of Year To Plant Evergreens?

So, you have your eyes set on a particular evergreen tree. Perhaps you prefer blue spruce for the windbreaks and the privacy it provides. Or you choose the Southern magnolia for its impressive beauty. 

Your preference will mostly depend on what you want to use the tree for. But that’s a topic for another day, although you can check out my article about 11 hardy evergreen trees. 

The question is: when should you buy and plant your preferred evergreen tree?

The best time of year to plant evergreens is in the fall, followed by the spring. Evergreens are less active around the fall, and that’s a good time to put them in the ground. Handling evergreens during the fall is less likely to disrupt their growth, as they’re not in their active growing phase. 

But let’s clear something up.

The exact months for these seasons (fall and spring) will vary depending on your neck of the woods. 

The specific months for these seasons (fall and spring) will vary depending on your neck of the woods. 

In the northern hemisphere, fall runs from September through November, and the spring season falls between March and May.

Avoid Planting Evergreens in Extremely Hot Conditions

Here’s something else to keep in mind: Don’t put an evergreen tree or shrub in the ground during extremely dry or hot conditions, regardless of the month.

Planting young trees in the hot summer months can damage them because they’re actively growing during this period. The heat isn’t particularly beneficial for them.

Of course, heat-tolerant varieties can do well in hot climates if you correctly maintain them. But planting these trees long before the heat of summer sets in will give them enough time to establish themselves.  

Besides, evergreens will benefit from the rain in spring.

Avoid Planting Evergreens in Extremely Cold, Dry Conditions

Okay, it’s easy to see why planting evergreens in hot conditions isn’t such a good idea. And when you come to think of it, planting any other tree in hot conditions is never a good idea! 

But why is early to mid-winter a not-so-great time to plant evergreens? 

Isn’t the ground wet from all the snow? And isn’t the water from the snow enough to keep the trees going?

Why is it called a dry condition when there’s snow and moisture everywhere?

Snow has moisture—no argument there.

But excessively cold conditions will freeze the ground. And no amount of snow is useful to tree roots until the snow melts to allow the moisture to get to the roots. 

Still, the top layer of the ground has to thaw for any reasonable amount of water to reach the roots. As you may have guessed, this process isn’t usually feasible.

In a nutshell, cold conditions are similar to desert conditions—dry! 

For this reason, it’s best to avoid planting evergreens in excessively cold conditions. 

How To Make Evergreen Trees Grow Better

Evergreens are rather tough plants, and that’s a good thing. You don’t have to worry too much about caring for them in most cases. 

Generally, all you have to do is water them properly in the fall, and they should take care of themselves for the rest of the year. 

However, you can make them grow even faster or better with the following tips. 

Plant the Evergreen Tree in Good Soil

First, you must choose the right soil to plant the tree. Not every site in your yard will support healthy growth. 

Although evergreens are generally hardy, planting them in soils with little to no nutrients can make it difficult for the tree to thrive. 

And while you can transplant these trees, you may damage them in the process. Your best bet would be to find the right site with enough soil nutrients to avoid handling the saplings during the active growth phase.

Use Fertilizers With Higher Nitrogen Content

Evergreen trees could use a little help from fertilizers, especially when they’re growing slowly. But not all fertilizers can stimulate healthy growth in these plants. 

Choose fertilizer products with higher nitrogen than other elements for the best results. I wrote a separate article about 17 fertilizers high in nitrogen.

Why is that?

Evergreens absorb nitrogen faster than phosphorus, potassium, and other nutrients in fertilizers.

In addition to using the correct fertilizer, it’s also essential to fertilize at the appropriate times and apply the right quantities.

A good time to do this will be in early spring. 

Make sure to remove any grass around the tree before applying the fertilizer. Eliminating the surrounding grass will ensure nothing competes with the plant for nutrients and water. 

And here’s something you should never do: avoid fertilizing evergreens during a drought. Doing so will make it difficult for the tree to access water. In some cases, this situation can lead to tree damage. And in worse cases, your tree will eventually die off.

Fertilize Evergreen Trees When Necessary Only

Generally, you don’t have to worry too much about fertilizing evergreen trees. That’s because evergreen trees don’t require much fertilizing.

But you should consider fertilizing them in certain scenarios, such as the following:

  • The leaves or needles aren’t in great shape. Perhaps the needles are shorter than normal or lack their usual vibrant green color. 
  • You want to speed up growth in saplings. You can encourage faster growth using fertilizers, provided the plants are still relatively young.
  • There’s damage to the trees. It’s good to fertilize evergreen trees if they have a disease or suffer from insect infestation.
  • The new growth rate is considerably slow. Apply your preferred fertilizer around the base of the evergreen trees to stimulate growth.
  • Your site has few soil nutrients. Fertilizing may help if your site doesn’t have the right nutrients to help the plant thrive.

Some evergreens need important nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to thrive, while others may not need fertilizer because they can get enough nutrients from their surrounding. When fertilizing your evergreens, make sure you don’t overfertilize them because doing so may lead to them having spaced branches.

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