Covering hedges for winter


We replaced our hedges with Inkbox Gemberry Holly bushes to replace our boxwood. We were told that they would need to be covered in winter. When should we cover our Holly bushes?


Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners with your question about protecting your new Inkberry Holly hedge. With boxwood blight decimating Toronto boxwood hedges, Gem Box Inkberry holly (Ilex glabra) is a good alternative shrub to use for a hedge.

Winter protection for plants is dependent on their Plant Hardiness zone rating and Gem Box Inkberry Holly is rated for Zone 5a. Below is a Toronto Master Gardener explanation of Toronto hardiness zones:

Plant Hardiness zones

Depending on where you live and the severity of our winter, protection may be necessary for holly. Below is an article on winter burn on holly and how to manage it:

Winter burn on holly bushes

The article below is about colder temperature zones, but describes many common causes of winter damage. Salt, wind, dry or snowy conditions, hungry animals and frost heaving can occur even in warmer zones like Toronto.

Protecting shrubs in winter

If the hedge was planted this year, burlap protection could ensure it winters well. Landscape Ontario has a good guide for wrapping plants and trees:

Burlap protection in winter

Put in stakes to support the burlap before the ground freezes. Then wrap burlap around the hedge in late November or December. Hope your new holly hedge is healthy and happy in the spring.