So, you look out into your yard, and you see your favorite shrub. It doesn’t look so hot, and the only conclusion you can come to is that it’s DEAD. Do you really know it’s dead or are you just assuming?
Know for sure with the scratch test!
THE SCRATCH TEST
A GARDENER'S SECRET FRIEND
Ever wonder if a plant was alive or just dormant?
The scratch test will tell you. Select a small branch and scrape away the bark with your thumbnail or the edge of something sharp. Try on several branches and in several spots high and low. If it's green underneath, that branch is alive. The reason you should try several spots is because it's possible to have one dead branch on a live plant or the tip of a branch could be dead and the rest beneath it is alive.
This trick will work on 99% of trees and shrubs. Remember, it won't work on perennials because they die down to the ground in the winter and come back from the roots in the spring.