The Benefits of Transfilm and How it’s Done
Updated: Mar 18, 2019
It’s easy to be concerned with the look of your plants when warmer weather comes around. Why is my plant lopsided? Did one of my rosebushes die? Is that a grub colony? Whatever your summer woes, in some cases the best way to handle them is by taking preventative measures.
Implementing a transfilm is one way homeowners can help ensure the safety of their plants through the harsh Ohio winters.
There are two main ways landscapers and plant healthcare specialists alike combat water loss in plants during the winter. The most well known method is placing burlap sacks on plants. Similar to putting on a pair of gloves to protect your hands against the wind, burlap works well, but is also unsightly.
A lesser-known method we use is called transfilm. Also called an anti-dessicant or an anti-transpirant spray, it is a mixture sprayed onto the surfaces of leaves and buds to coat them with a clear film, keeping the water inside the plant when it dries. Most products are a mixture of polyethylenes (a popular plastic used to make grocery bags to children’s toys) and polyterpenes (rubber that occurs in the latex of the rubber tree). In other words, we are basically spraying your plants with plastic/rubber mixed with water.
This spray is only applied when temperatures are maintained below 55 degrees Fahrenheit because it breaks down in high heat. This allows the plants to undergo transpiration, or how plants cool down in the summertime, and inhibiting this process would undermine the plants overall health.
And because it’s not considered a pesticide, it is often sprayed on holiday greenery like cut Christmas trees and wreaths, making it a very safe option for protecting your plants.
Why Do I Need It?
If you’re an avid gardener, you’ve probably heard of the plant zones and how they affect what grows in those regions. According to the USDA, Ohio has three different hardiness zones.
Cold injury and death to plants is something we have very little control over. Sometimes a sensitive plant can be brought indoors or overwintered in a greenhouse, but what about the plants that need to stay in the ground? Plant healthcare specialists work to control some of the complicating factors that come with the cold with water-loss being one of the main concerns.
Water loss in plants usually presents itself as winter-burn. In evergreens, you will notice the dark foliage turn an orange, bronze or brown color indicating those leaves have died. If you are able to look past the leaves to the center of the plant, you will see the dark color of other leaves better protected from the elements. From an aesthetic standpoint, this can make your winter landscapes look dreary, but from a health standpoint, these dead tips could set the plant back well after winter has ended.
Water loss isn’t just limited to evergreens; trees and shrubs may have lost their leaves, but they set buds in the fall to open up in the spring. Just like in evergreens, drying out of the buds can cause localized die back your plants will have to recover in the spring. After several years of water-loss due to windburn, you may notice the plant is lopsided because the side facing the wind has suffered bud damage repeatedly.
If the landscape has been freshly planted, these new plants will be even more susceptible to drying out, having reallocated resources to growing roots underground instead.
The disastrous effects of water loss can be prevented by using a transfilm on your landscape in preparation for the cold months ahead so your plants stay looking as healthy as the day you planted them.
How do you know if a winter anti-transpiration, or transfilm, is right for you? Take a look at the questions below.
Do you notice the leaves of your plants browning out or looking lopsided like what was described above?
Do you have a landscape that was recently installed within the last 3 years?
Do you have plants that have been drought stressed in the past?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions but are curious to find out, schedule an appointment with a Plant Healthcare specialist, and they can help you decide.