Thursday, January 29, 2009

Winter Weather Plant Concerns

Right now the is cold and snowy. Here's whats going on in the garden.

With the amount of snow on the ground, covered plants are well insulated which keeps them from coming out of dormancy prematurely. Bulbs for example. Plants that are more tender, Rhododendrons, Azaleas are protected from winds by the snow cover. This will help prevent their flower buds from freezing off due to wind desiccation.

If a garden was not raked out of leaves and debris in the fall; with the high amounts of snow cover, moles and voles will have a field day because of the snow cover. Once we get a thaw and can see the ground use an organic repellent to keep the rodent problem to a minimal.

Heavy snow loads are ok on shrubs that are properly pruned to hold the weight. Snow should not be removed, but let to melt naturally. Usually the shape of a shrub will ‘bounce back’ once the snow is off. If it does not, pruning will be necessary to eliminate leggy branches. Ideally, all plants should be pruned 2x per year to prevent leggy growth.

Cold weather is great to finally have a hard freeze in the ground. As you can remember during the past few winters, the ground never froze. When high winds occur, trees were wind or top heavy and pulled out of the ground because the ground was water laden and soft. Roots right now are locked in and high winds should not be a problem at this time.

Plants are very resilient. The weather is not so unusual to plants that are hardy to zone 5 or less. Because we have been tempted with mild winters in the past 5 or so years, gardeners have been experimenting with plants that are zone 6-7 hardy. These plants will probably die back and possibly die off. Gardeners will be mindful to realize they can only temp Mother Nature so long before she kicks us in the butt with a brutal cold winter like this one. Global warming doesn’t necessarily mean we are going to have a mild winter. Though this has been the case for several years, I think we all can recall the days past when this type of winter was the norm.

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