Mid-American Gardener

Winter Tree Damage: How to Ensure a Healthy Life for Your Trees


This week on Mid-American Gardener, Jen and Sarah are in the studio with lots of great recommendations as we start cleaning up our yards and planning what to add to our landscape. 

First, Sarah reminds us that while it’s easy to let our focus be on our flower beds and gardens, we also need to check in on our trees, making sure they didn’t face too much winter damage and have a healthy start this year. 

There are three things that stress trees out in the winter: high winds, heavy snow/ice loads, and frost cracking. Look for damage to the roots, canopy, and stem, and big, dead branches, especially those that are hanging. Cracks or splits could have also developed. In regard to the roots, check to see if they are exposed, have been damaged in any way, or if they are strangling the trunk of the tree due to limited root space. Mulch rings can help protect the roots from mowers, add moisture to the soil, and suppress weed growth. 

Sarah also shares a bit about the rise and fall of the Callery Pear Tree. It is now classified as an invasive species, although it is not regulated by law. It gained in popularity post-1960 and quickly became one of the most planted ornamental trees. While it has a beautiful shape and bright white flowers, it is notorious for breaking and is harmful to the overall ecosystem. Not to mention the rancid, fishy smell the flowers emit.

Neighborhoods could use a lot more diverse species. If you’re looking to replace a pear tree, Sarah recommends looking into dogwood, American hophornbeam, or paperbark maple trees. Illinois Extension has a native tree checklist if you’d like to see what might be a good replacement for your yard and a tree selection fact sheet for reference, too. 

Jen brought in some new houseplants! She is slowly trying to incorporate low-maintenance plants in her house. She recommends trying philodendrons (Adam and Swiss Cheese pictured above) and delosperma or pickle plant. 

We also discuss good, shady, colorful perennials to add to your yard this year. Hostas can sometimes be overused and are very common, so here are some other recommendations below!

  • Astilbe
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Japanese Painted Fern
  • Brunera
  • Bloodroot
  • Yellow Trout Lily
  • Bluebells
  • Golden Alexander
  • Ligularia
  • Hellebore/Lenten Rose

Jen and Sarah also answer your questions about the best citrus trees to grow indoors, when to prune your rose bushes, overwintering conditions in basements/garages, and how to get Maypop Passionflowers to fruit.

If you’ve got any questions for our panelists or suggestions for gardens or greenhouses that we should visit, please send us an email at yourgarden@gmail.com com, or you can find us on Facebook and Instagram.



Episode 1229 - April 13, 2023

Air Dates and Times

Channel Day Time
WILL-TV, Urbana Thursday 7 pm (live)
  Saturday 11 am (repeat)
WTVP-TV, Peoria Saturday 11:30 am
WEIU-TV, Charleston Sunday 1:30 pm
WSEC-TV, Springfield Saturday 11 am
WQEC-TV, Quincy Saturday 11 am
WMEC-TV, Macomb Saturday 11 am
Lakeshore PBS, Chicago/Northwest Indiana Friday 1 pm

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