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Preparing for Winter
In the Garden

 
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Each year we are asked for a reminder of what to do to prepare for winter. With temperatures heading steadily downward, the question seems particularly timely. In short, do it now, while you can still work in relative comfort outdoors!

Hereís a summary checklist of things you may want to do, if you have not already done them.

  1. Be sure that tender plants that have spent the spring and summer outdoors find an indoor location that meets their needs. We have already experienced hard freezes over most of the area, so you have no time to waste. A proper indoor location includes providing the right lighting conditions, humidity, watering and protection from drafts. Each species has its own special requirements, and success depends on providing for them correctly. If you are in doubt, contact your county Extension or Outreach office for information. It may mean success or failure for your plants, or at least having them flourish rather than just barely surviving the winter.
     
  2. For perennials remaining outdoors, put a protective layer of leaves or other mulch around them to moderate soil temperature and reduce the chances of heaving due to soil temperature fluctuations.
     
  3. Tie Clematis and other perennial vines to supports to avoid wind damage. Remember that vines are heavy feeders and require a regular supply of moisture to prosper. They also benefit from a good mulching particularly after fall pruning and feeding.
     
  4. Evergreensí need for moisture continues through the winter months. If there is not a consistent snow cover, they will need watering whenever it is warm enough to permit use of a garden hose. Broadleaf evergreens, like Azaleas and Rhododendrons suffer damage if they are allowed to transpire excessively. They should be misted or sprayed with a product that controls their transpiration rate.
     
  5. Cleaning up the garden after deadheading and pruning is very important in reducing the spread of a number of fungal diseases. All leaves and branches, especially those that have been attacked by fungus, should be collected and destroyed.
     
  6. Unless they are badly overgrown or damaged, wait until the early spring to prune your roses. There will be natural winter die back, and this, along with any damaged canes, can be removed then. Some Hybrid Tea Roses are quite cold sensitive and benefit from mounding with soil to protect the tender graft area.
     
  7. Donít forget to provide food and water for birds that overwinter here, as well as those just passing through!
     
  8. Take time to enjoy the particular charm and beauty of late fall and winter, especially the structure and shape of threes and shrubs once the fallen leaves are gone. Try to take comfort from the fact that most plant life is only entering a period of dormancy, having already stored up energy in roots and bulbs for their eagerly awaited rebirth in spring!

 

 

 

 
 

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