Snow and ice can do a lot of damage to many kinds of trees and shrubs. Wet snow followed by rain or sleet may be especially dangerous because of increased weight, particularly if temperatures go below freezing.
If the snow does not come off with light brushing, prop up the branches instead of taking a chance of breaking them off by strong shaking. The limbs become very brittle as the temperature falls and they may snap off.
Some trees, particularly Canadian hemlock and gray birch, can withstand tremendous weights of snow and ice without suffering permanent damage. The gray birch can be bent to the ground and yet it soon recovers when the snow thaws.
Storm damage is most likely to occur on the faster growing trees such as silver maple, willow, poplar, black locust and Siberian elm.
Ice storms start with a drizzle when the temperature hovers a point or two below freezing. Ice piles on ice. Suddenly, branches come crashing down.Crotches split. In some cases, weighted down with ice, the entire tree topples to the ground.
Pruning can help prevent some breakage. Crotches with acute angles can be eliminated as much as possible during the early training of a tree. Excessively long lateral branches can be shortened to reduce snow loads.
Upright yews and many of the arborvitae can be opened up by snow loads so that they lose their desirable compact appearance. They can be gently bound with soft twine to help hold them together.
During a snow, it may be practical to carefully remove heavy buildups with a broom or bamboo rake. But don't attempt it after snow has frozen or caked on the branches because you are likely to do more harm than good.
When branches on small plants are broken, often they can be dug in the spring and turned or relocated so they will still retain their value in the landscape.
If a branch is cracked or split, there is a chance it may heal if you can give it first aid promptly. Bind them with thin cotton twine like that used for grafting. Bolting through larger split branches and even split trunks is worth trying.
If you are going to attempt repairs; do them as soon as possible. Delay means drying out of the wood and the drier the wood the less chance for healing.
House plants such as African violets, gloxinia and Rex begonia growing on a windowsill can be seriously damaged by light reflected from snow. This is particularly true of plants that have been continuously in a north window and have not been subjected to direct sunlight.
These plants have tender leaves and are susceptible to sunscald. This is seldom a problem with plants growing in a south window because the leaves of such plants are tough and capable of withstanding direct or reflected light rays. Sunscald shows up as crispy brown spots in the middle and along the margins of the leaf.
As soon as the sun appears after a fresh snow, allow the curtain to hang between the glass and the plants, or put a piece of cheese cloth in front of the plants. This will soften the light and prevent sunscald.