In reply to a question about watering his trees, our arborist mentioned the Thumbnail Test as follows:
I would carefully poke around in the soil to find roots and then do the "thumbnail test." Gently scratch off just a bit of the root covering to see if there's some moist-looking tissue beneath (check several areas to try to get an overall view).
If there is, water once a week with about 1 gallon (check the soil moisture before watering to be sure it's needed), try to protect the sides of the pots from the cold, and wait to see if any new growth emerges this spring.
I would also "thumbnail test" the twigs, again looking for moist-looking tissue just beneath the bark. You may have moist tissue in the crown but none in the roots, or vice versa, which may still mean the end of the plant.
If you find no moist tissue above or below ground, you may be replacing the plants for sure this spring.
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