Garden Tips - December 2017 - Deborah Carney

Horticulture Tip - Wilt-Pruf

At this time of the year, late fall, I like to get out my spray bottle of Wilt-Pruf,  take advantage of these semi-warm waning days of November and give my flowering perennials a good coating to protect them through the winter.

Wilt-Pruf is an interesting product.  Sixty-seven years ago it was created and became the first anti-transpirant on the market.  At that time the product was used by nurserymen to protect shrubs and trees from dehydration during the transplanting process.   Transpiration, or anti-transpiration means that the product, when applied, can help protect plants from loosing surface matter and specifically water while waiting to be shipped great distances or to remain fresh in a harsh environment that otherwise may have lead to early plant failure.

 In our Northeast region, winter winds, dry air and frozen ground create the perfect setting for depriving plants of their natural moisture intake.   A good example of this are the 3 rhododendrons that I’ve had to replace over the past 3 years.  These rhodie’s sit in the direct path of a strong wintery north west wind that seems to regularly do significant damage to any plant in it’s path! I tried heavy mulch applications in the fall.  I tried wrapping them with burlap.  And then, at a friend’s suggestion, I tried Wilt-Pruf in the fall.  I was amazed with the change.  The protective and long lasting coating worked quite well last winter and I noticed that it stayed on the leaves well into spring, and then dissipated with the heat of the warmer days.  It looks like a clear, shiny, flexible film and as the manufacturer
Says, it does not interfere with plant growth, does not affect respiration, osmosis or photosynthesis.  As I discovered, and the instructions state, “normal weather conditions will, with time oxidize off the Wilt-Pruf coating layer by layer, over approximately 3 to 4 months depending on how heavy the coating is applied”.

Other brands of anti-transpirants are stated by the manufacturer, to only provide one layer of protection per application.  When that layer is oxidized, the plant leaf is once again vulnerable to the weather.

Anti-transpirants, such as Wilt-Pruf can be applied at any time of the year to decrease plant stress from whatever source (drought, wind, and freezing temps) as long as it does not freeze on the foliage.  It should also be allowed to dry in daylight for 3-4 hours.

I have had really good luck with this product.  It is recommended for use on most all ornamentals, as well as arborvitae, cypress, junipers and cedar. I have used it on my Azaleas and Rhododendrons that I re-planted in that north-west windy area of my front yard with no winter kill to report.  I still mulch the plants heavily and this year did burlap a few of the” babies”, but, all in all, I have had nowhere near the plant loss that I experienced before I started using this form of anti-transpirant.  I even sprayed my Dahlia bulbs before storing them this winter.  I’ll let you know how that turns out in my spring follow-up.

Cheers … Deb

December 2017