[The Brazil Times nameplate] Fair ~ 38°F  
Frost Advisory
Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014

Deicers impact on plants

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I thought it would be a good idea to revisit the subject of deicer's impact on plants since we all know there is a good chance we will see more winter weather this year.

Often, when we are trying to get rid of the snow and ice, we find ourselves using deicers.

If you are one of the many who use deicers, listen up to the following information on deicers since they can damage your plants.

There are numerous types of deicers available.

The common chemicals used for deicers are: Calcium Chloride, Sodium Chloride, Magnesium Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Urea and Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA).

Calcium Chloride gives off heat as it melts, which allows it to melt at lower temperatures.

If used properly, it should not damage plants.

It is more expensive than Sodium Chloride.

Sodium Chloride is commonly referred to as rock salt.

It is relative inexpensive, but can damage plants.

Likewise, it can damage metal and concrete.

Magnesium Chloride does not typically harm plants when used properly.

Both Magnesium Chloride and Potassium Chloride are more expensive than Sodium Chloride.

Potassium Chloride is naturally occurring.

It is used as a fertilizer and as a food salt substitute.

It can cause foliage burn on your plants along with damaging their root system.

The reason for that is because of its high salt index.

Urea is primarily used as a nitrogen based fertilizer.

It can cause damage to plants when too much is used and excessive runoff of urea can damage ponds through nitrogen pollution.

Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA) is a newer deicing agent.

It is salt-free and made from dolomitic limestone and acetic acid.

CMA causes little impact on plants making it a good environmentally friendly deicer when compared to the others.

However, CMA can be expensive.

Deicers should not be used to completely melt the snow or ice.

Instead, you should use them to make snow removal easier.

Once the snow or ice is partially melted, try to shovel or plow it away.

If left there to melt completely, you stand a chance of the chemical spreading onto your plants and into the soil.

This could ultimately harm your plants.

The following trees and shrubs are sensitive to sale used as a deicer: Black Walnut, Eastern White Pine, European Hornbeam, Hackberry and Red Maple.

In comparison, Black Locust, Colorado Blue Spruce, Honey Locust, Kentucky Coffee Tree and Virginia Creeper are considered tolerant of salt.

The tolerance of some plants varies on the way it comes in contact with the salt, such as Hickory and Quaking Aspen.

For a complete list of plants and their sensitivity to deicers, check out Purdue Extension publication ID-412-W, "Salt Damage in Landscape Plants," online.

As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture, or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly at smith535@purdue.edu.

Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* Jan. 15 -- PCARET luncheon,

* Jan. 15 -- Indiana 4-H Scholarship deadline and National 4-H Congress applications due,

* Feb. 12 -- Start of Master Gardeners, 6-9 p.m. Cost is $115 at the Owen County Extension Office. Call 812-829-5020 to sign up, and

* Feb. 19 -- Start of Annie's Project, 1-4 p.m. Cost is $75 at the Owen County Extension Office. Call 812-829-5020 to sign up.