I figured this would be good timing for a read like this, as the fall is the best time to plant trees. Now is the time to think about what type of tree you want and where you’re going to locate it.
It is common practice across the Midwest to use deicing salts (primarily sodium chloride) in winter to maintain safe roadways, sidewalks and driveways. Despite the benefits, deicing salts used near plants can cause extensive damage. Salt is spread to nearby plants from roads being plowed, meltwater runoff, splash, and aerial spray.
When air-borne salt lands on twigs, buds or needles, the salt draws moisture out of plant tissue, causing desiccation and scorch. On evergreens, salt spray causes die-back starting at the tips of needles. On deciduous plants, the symptoms of salt damage become visible during summer or hot dry weather, when leaf margins show scorching. Salt spray and excess soil salts can also cause branch die-back, stunted growth of stems and foliage, overall lack of vigor, and many times death. Turf along well-used sidewalks and streets usually show stress and dead areas due to excess soil salt.
Symptoms & Effects ~ Air-borne Salt:
• Plants damaged by aerial salts are more common than by soil salts in the Midwest.
• Salt damage is most severe within 50 feet of the roadway (farther if roadway speeds are higher), which decreases with distance, however sensitive plants can show scorch at distances of 1,000 feet or more.
• On evergreens, salt spray causes needles to turn brown or yellow and twig die-back, commonly only on the roadside portion of the plant.
• On deciduous plants, salt spray can kill or contort the buds and twigs. In the spring, new growth may appear as a clump of twigs known as a Witch’s Broom.
• Branches that are protected by snow, fencing, parked cars or other barriers are less likely to be injured.
Symptoms & Effects ~ Soil Salt:
• Soil salt collects in drainage systems adjacent to roadways where the salt-laden runoff is channeled or splashed. These systems can bring salt-laden water far away from where it was originally used.
•Snow that is filled with salt is many times plowed and shoveled directly on the root zone of plants to remove it from walkways and roads. This causes root dehydration.
• Soil salt damage causes browning along leaf edges, stunted growth, fewer and smaller leaves, less flowers, which means less fruit.
• Plants growing in soils high in salt generally are highly stressed, never look healthy and usually die early.
How to Minimize Salt Damage:
• Minimize or avoid using salt around landscape plants.
• Mix salt with fillers like sand, sawdust or cinders.
• Wait to apply a deicing salt until after shoveling or plowing.
• Avoid shoveling salt-laden snow on the root zones of plants.
• Construct temporary barriers made of burlap or fencing to protect low-growing plants susceptible to aerial salt damage.
• Keep plants healthy and correctly mulch (no mulch volcanoes!) to reduce water loss.
• Use salt-tolerant plants in exposed areas!
Here’s a list of plants that can tolerate salt. Plants in bold can handle more salt than the others. * means the plant can tolerate soil salt.
Acer campestre – Hedge maple
Acer ginnala – Amur maple
Acer nigrum – Black maple
Acer pseudoplatanus – Sycamore maple
Acer saccharinum – Silver maple
Aesculus hippocastanum* – Horse-chestnut
Aesculus octandra – Yellow buckeye
Amelanchier x grandiflora – Apple serviceberry
Amelanchier canadensis – Serviceberry
Betula nigra – River birch
Carya cordiformis* – Bitternut hickory
Carya ovata – Shagbark hickory
Catalpa speciosa* – Northern catalpa
Celtis occidentalis* – Hackberry
Diospyros virginiana – Persimmon
Ginkgo biloba* – Ginkgo
Gleditsia triacanthos* – Honey locust
Gymnocladus dioicus* – Kentucky coffeetree
Juglans cinerea – Butternut
Juglans nigra* – Black walnut
Koelreuteria paniculata – Golden rain tree
Larix decidua – European larch
Larix laricina – American larch
Liquidambar styraciflua* – Sweet gum
Magnolia x soulangiana – Saucer magnolia
Malus (some cultivars) Crabapple (x zumi ‘Calocarpa’, ‘Adams’, ‘Donald Wyman’, ‘Prairifire’)
Nyssa sylvatica* – Tupelo
Ostrya virginiana – Ironwood
Platanus occidentalis* – Sycamore
Prunus maackii – Amur chokecherry
Prunus virginiana* – Choke cherry
Pyrus calleryana – Callery pear
Quercus alba – White oak
Quercus bicolor* – Swamp white oak
Quercus ellipsoidalis* – Northern pin oak
Quercus imbricaria – Shingle oak
Quercus macrocarpa* – Bur oak
Quercus robur – English oak
Sassafras albidum – Sassafras
Syringa amurensis* – Japanese tree lilac
Syringa pekinensis* – Peking lilac
Taxodium distichum* – Bald-cypress
Ulmus ‘Regal’* – Regal elm
Juniperus chinensis* – Chinese juniper
Juniperus horizontalis* – Creeping juniper
Juniperus virginiana – Eastern red-cedar
Picea pungens* – Blue spruce
Pinus mugo* – Mugo pine
Thuja occidentalis* – Eastern arborvitae
Alnus rugosa – Speckled alder
Amorpha fruticosa* – Indigo-bush
Aronia arbutifolia – Red chokeberry
Aronia melanocarpa – Black chokeberry
Berberis thunbergii – Japanese barberry
Buxus microphylla var. koreana – Korean boxwood
Caragana arborescens* – Siberian pea-shrub
Caragana fruticosa – Russian pea-shrub
Clethra alnifolia – Summersweet clethra
Comptonia peregrina – Sweet-fern
Cotoneaster species* Cotoneaster
Forsythia spp.* – Forsythia
Hamamelis virginiana – Witch-hazel
Hibiscus syriacus – Rose-of-Sharon
Hippophae rhamnoides* – Sea-buckthorn
Hydrangea spp. Hydrangea
Hypericum spp. – St. John’s wort
Ilex verticillata – Winterberry 3-9 M
Lespedeza bicolor Shrub – bush-clover
Myrica pensylvanica* – Bayberry
Perovskia atriplicifolia – Russian-sage
Philadelphus coronarius – Mock-orange
Potentilla fruticosa – Shrubby cinquefoil
Prunus x cistena – Purpleleaf sand cherry
Pyracantha coccinea – Firethorn
Rhodotypos scandens – Black jetbead
Rhus aromatica* – Fragrant sumac
Rhus glabra* – Smooth sumac
Rhus typhina* -Staghorn sumac
Ribes alpinum* – Alpine currant
Robinia hispida* – Bristly locust 5-8 T
Rosa rugosa* – Rugosa rose
Sambucus canadensis – Elderberry
Shepherdia canadensis – Buffaloberry
Spiraea spp. (most) Spirea
Symphoricarpos albus – Snowberry
Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin’* – Palibin lilac
Syringa patula ‘Miss Kim’* – Miss Kim lilac 3-7 T
Viburnum dentatum – Arrowwood viburnum
Viburnum lentago – Nannyberry
Viburnum prunifolium* – Blackhaw viburnum
Viburnum trilobum – American cranberry-bush
© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl