Wilt-Pruf – The Year-Round Plant Protector
Americans spend billions of dollars every year on nursery plants, yet there is little thought about how to protect them throughout the year from stress damage caused by water loss. In the 1950’s, an anti-transpirant product called Wilt-Pruf was introduced to protect newly planted trees and shrubs from dying due to water loss during summer heat. Over sixty years later, Wilt-Pruf remains a secret of top gardeners to address excess moisture loss due to the heat, wind, and cold that Mother Nature brings in all areas of the country. All of these conditions impact a plant’s ability to retain water, leading to more being lost via the leaves than can be replenished through the roots.
Wilt-Pruf is organic and biodegradable. It creates a multi-layer protective coating on plant foliage and stems that reduces respiration during periods of stress. This is whenever water intake is diminished—like during summer droughts or harsh winters. It dries to form a transparent, breathable, and flexible coating without interfering with plant growth or materially affecting respiration, osmosis, or photosynthesis. What makes Wilt-Pruf different is our unique ability to create more than one layer of protection which leads to the longest lasting protection available. When a layer of Wilt-Pruf wears off, another layer forms. This process continues until all layers have worn off, typically 1 – 2 months in summer, and 3 – 4 months in winter. All of this is accomplished by the ultraviolet rays from the sun. For Wilt-Pruf to properly set on the plant, it requires several hours of daylight (not necessarily direct sunlight) while the plant is outdoors. This also reduces any potential stickiness and may add a shine to the leaves.
To meet the needs of homeowners, landscapers, and growers, the product comes in a variety of sizes and forms. For people wanting a simple solution, there are ready-to-use spray bottles in 32-ounce and 1-gallon sizes. For a more economical choice, or larger coverage, concentrates exist in pint, quart, one-, five- and fifty-five-gallon sizes. The concentrates are mixed with water based on the specific seasonal use and can be applied using a pump or power sprayer. A hose end sprayer is not recommended due to mixture inconsistencies. The key is to add Wilt-Pruf to water (never add water to Wilt-Pruf as it will not properly mix) at the correct dilution. Read the label for specific mixing directions but as a rule, for winter applications mix at a 1:5 dilution and for most other uses a 1:10 dilution is recommended. A 1:5 dilution means one part Wilt-Pruf concentrate to five parts water and for the 1:10 dilution it is one part Wilt-Pruf to ten parts water.
Think of Wilt-Pruf like Vitamin C for humans— people take it to help ward off getting sick. Anti-transpirants are similar in slowing down the effects of moisture loss before damage occurs. It is insurance to help ward off the ills that Mother Nature can deliver. One never knows when this will occur, so using Wilt-Pruf regularly is a good idea for healthier plants.
Wilt-Pruf for Transplanting.
Trees, shrubs, and other plants likely had a stressful trip from the growing fields until they reach their final destination and are ready to be planted. During this time, they probably had extended periods of stress from the loss of moisture. Once planted in the ground, it will be a month or more before the roots are set and efficiently providing water to the plant. It is recommended to apply Wilt-Pruf as soon as possible to help the plant thrive during this period of stress. Early damage can impact the plant throughout its life and can lead to premature death and the need for a costly replacement.
Wilt-Pruf for Drought Protection.
People think of drought as when there is little to no precipitation, but in this instance, we are using it interchangeably with plant wilt. Wilting is when evaporation or transpiration is greater than root water intake which causes the plant to be under stress. It is easy to understand the risk when there is no precipitation, but the issue happens even when there is some rain. Anytime there is heat or direct sunlight that causes moisture to dissipate faster than the roots can replace it, there is a need for Wilt-Pruf to be applied. There is no downside to an application of Wilt-Pruf in late spring and again in early summer to assure overall plant health. For areas with shorter periods of potential heat stress, the suggestion is to apply it before the weather forecast is for hot temperatures and/or periods of low rainfall. Each application will last up to two months.
Wilt-Pruf for Fall and Winter Holidays.
As good a job as Wilt-Pruf does for living plants outdoors, the benefits when it comes to the holidays are well documented. A little secret is the product adds value starting in October. After cleaning, sanitizing, and cutting of pumpkins, an application will help lock in the moisture and slow down deterioration to keep them looking good longer.
Christmas is when many people know of Wilt-Pruf as it locks in moisture for cut trees, wreaths, and garland. The benefit is needles remain green and it substantially improves how long they remain on the branch. It is frustrating to look down at the floor and see needles. A single application of Wilt-Pruf will lead to more needles remaining on the tree or wreath. This in turn will reduce the amount of water that has to be added to the tree reservoir meaning more time to enjoy.
Wilt-Pruf for Winterizing.
Like locking water in during the summer, plants that do not shed their leaves like evergreens need help in conserving water during the winter. No matter the climate, it is likely that colder temperatures and high winds will potentially dry out the leaves when the roots have little to no water to replace it. This is often seen as brown needles by which time it is too late to do much about it. One application around Thanksgiving will add a protective coating that will last until March, allowing the plant to enter spring healthier.
Product can be used on wide variety of plant types.
We’ve tested Wilt-Pruf on a large variety of plants, trees and shrubs over the past 60 years and have determined you can apply to just about any outdoor plant, including perennials. That being said, Wilt-Pruf is not for everything. Based on our research, we have the following disclaimers: (1) we don’t recommend using it on plants with hairy leaves; (2) do not use on African Violets or exotic, slow-growing dwarf plants; (3) do not apply on arborvitae, cypress, juniper or cedar until the plants have hardened off for the winter (our scientists recommend using ground freezing as a key indicator); (4) product will turn blue spruce green temporarily; and (5) when in doubt, use a high dilution rate (e.g., 1:15) and test before applying fully.