Spring condition of barberry hedge
I live in zone 3-4 on the edge of Lake Ontario in NY. I have a long hedge of barberry facing the lake that were planted ~10 yrs ago. I prune them late fall every year. This past winter was severe more than usual with lots of snow and lasting forever it seemed. Now warm weather is upon us the hedge shows new leaves but only at the lower 1/3 of each plant. The stalks without leaves appear to be live/not dead. Would this be considered normal? Will the plants continue to get leaves upward given time? I have barberry at the front of the house away from the lake and they have come back as they usually do. Thank you
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Because you are so far north, and the winter has been colder than usual, this should be expected. They will take a longer than usual amount of time to recover, but if you do not see anything in a month or so, then you will want to cut off any bare growth. Eventually they will recover, but it may take a little longer this year.
To help shrubs through winter, make sure they receive adequate moisture all the way to when the ground freezes. If autumn is dry and the plants go into winter on the dry side, drying winter winds will strip remaining moisture from branches. With the soil frozen, roots can't send up moisture to replace what is lost. This is one cause of winter die-back. Also, never fertilize shrubs for at least 6 weeks before first expected frost. During this period, plants need to be preparing for winter survival, not putting out new growth.