General Discussion:

over wintering arbutus trees

Messages posted to thread:

Richard20-Sep-03 09:33 AM EST
Glen21-Sep-03 08:51 AM EST 7   
Richard01-Nov-03 09:00 AM EST 7b   
Glen05-Nov-03 07:12 AM EST 7   
Chris19-Sep-04 08:30 PM EST 7   

Subject: over wintering arbutus trees
From: Richard
Date: 20-Sep-03 09:33 AM EST

I have a small (3 feet high) arbutus tree since spring. I am 80 kms from the coast and in Abbotsford, BC and am wondering about the slightly chillier winter and how I can help the tree make it through the winter.

Thanks for any help!


Subject: RE: over wintering arbutus trees
From: Glen
Zone: 7
Date: 21-Sep-03 08:51 AM EST


The arbutus is one of the fussiest plants even here on the coast. It absolutely must have excellent soil drainage, and it will be winter when this gets tested. You can lose it easier from soggy roots than from cold, IMO.

Since they also hate transplanting, it probably has to stay where it is, so hopefully that's a sandy/gravelly well drained spot, (no downspout emptying nearby, etc.).

The other thing will be the evergreen leaves in arctic outflows, I would try to erect some wind protection during these events only, large evergreen boughs placed around the tree would help. Remove them when the winter mild rains come back. This will get harder as the tree grows, then it's on it's own I guess!

Good luck, this is a gorgeous tree...

One other thought, this tree is very dependent in the wild on friendly soil fungi called mycorrhiza. A great way to improve the trees growth and chances would be to mulch over the root area, (not right up to the trunk, leave a space) with forest litter from around other similar plants like salal. This will encourage the right friendly microbes in the root area, which can make or break the health of the tree in a garden situation. Planting some arctostaphylos around the tree ( a popular groundcover here) will also benefit it, these two plants are closely related and have the same requirements for root biology).


Subject: RE: over wintering arbutus trees
From: Richard
Zone: 7b
Date: 01-Nov-03 09:00 AM EST

Thanks for the info about ground cover and fungi. Will try the evergreen boughs while it is small.

With the mild weather this fall, my arbutus is thinking it is spring and sprouting new leaves, the silly thing!

I bought some sea salt to spritz it with. Do you think I am on the right track with this?

I think the drainage will be ok as it is on a small 3 foot hill.

Any other sugestions?

Subject: RE: over wintering arbutus trees
From: Glen
Zone: 7
Date: 05-Nov-03 07:12 AM EST

Richard--I would be very careful with the sea salt, tho these trees obviously do grow right down to the water line on the gulf islands at least. There is actually an interesting development going on in Florida with a company that is using sea water dilutions as a very effective fertilizer, but dilution is the key word.

I personally would concentrate on liquified fish and kelp products, which also have a natural salt content that is rather high. Both of these are very helpful in promoting good fungi in the root areas, as well as being good foliar foods. Seaspray makes a really good product in our area.

IMO, the Alaska and Laters fish products are very inferior, not containing a good balance of the original fish...these just promote bacteria in the soil, not fungi. Hope this isn't treading on anyone's toes saying this, just my own opinion and that of soil biology people I've chatted with.

I guess that new growth has been stopped in it's tracks now by our record cold snap, eh? If we can just get thru these next few days, sounds like the good old wet and mild is coming back next week...

Glen in Surrey, BC

Subject: RE: over wintering arbutus trees
From: Chris (
Zone: 7
Date: 19-Sep-04 08:30 PM EST

Just wondering if this tree survived? we planted one this year in maple ridge, curious to know if it made it through the winter

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