Obvious signs of wind damage can be seen where trees and large shrubs are blown over, or their trunks are snapped some way up from the ground. This damage is always worse when the trees and shrubs are still in leaf, as these provide more resistance to the wind. So evergreens usually suffer more damage than deciduous plants, and gales in summer often cause more damage than those in winter.
But there are other symptoms that may plants can suffer when being buffeted by strong or cold winds.
Wind causes damage to the leaves of a wide range of plants by shredding them. Leaves can also suffer wind scorch (leaf scorch), where they wither, with a scorched look, with brown or sometimes black colouring either on their edges or over more-or-less the whole leaf. The leaves turn dry and brittle and may fall off. The wind acts like a vacuum cleaner – literally sucking water out of the leaves, and more quickly than the roots can replenish it, causing them to become damaged and/or die.
Wind scorch is worse when the soil or compost is frozen [LINK: Cold and frost damage], very dry [LINK: Drought and underwatering] or waterlogged [LINK: Waterlogging, flooding and overwatering], since the roots cannot absorb water to replace that lost through the leaves.
New and young plants are usually more susceptible to wind damage than fully established ones, since they haven’t established a good root system. The new leaves are more susceptible to wind scorch than mature ones.
Wind rock can damage plants with relatively weak or shallow roots. The wind rocks the stems and leaves back and fore and this is transferred to the roots, which move and break in the soil. Roses, buddleia and Lavatera are commonly affected by wind rock.
Plants, especially tall or top-heavy ones, growing in containers can be damaged when they are blown over. As the damage happens when they strike the ground’ leave upturned containers where they are and only right them when the wind has calmed down.