|Winter Gem boxwood with winter scorch, pale yellow and white leaves that are dry from winter dessication injury. They really look like porcelain, they even look like they have cracks running right down the leaves.|
After a few quick Google searches, it looks like this condition is known as winter burn, winter desiccation injury, winter drying, or my favorite winter scorch. It occurs for a number of reasons, but basically it's when the evergreen shrub (or conifer for that matter) loses too much moisture in the late fall and winter - especially when the weather warms and cools rapidly. This is common in the Midwest, in fact it's about 50°F here in Indiana today and will be going back down to the 20's this week.
It took me forever to find close up photos of boxwood leaves to identify this as Winter Gem, but if I'm mistaken please correct me in the comments!
|This one looks completely un-touched and sits literally 2 feet from one that is completely yellow and white. My guess is the roots took better for this one, and the others probably couldn't get a good footing before the cold.|
The treatment is to wait patiently until spring and distinguish the new growth from the truly dead branches, then prune the dead branches to 1/4" above live buds. Until then, I can enjoy my porcelain ghost boxwood and see what happens. I'm glad it happened to these 'extra' plants on the side yard and not something I went out of my way to buy.
|A key symptom of winter burn or winter scorch is splitting branches. When the weather is temporarily warm, the plant sends water to the leaves and then when the weather turns all that water freezes and causes freezer burn along the stems.|
|One is totally fine and one is completely white. My guess is it has more to do with the roots than the wind in this case.|