Have you seen signs of
daffodils, tulips and crocus coming up out of the ground? I
have even seen crowns of perennials
such as Salvia, Black-eyed Susan and Columbine already starting
to green up and the first official day of spring is more than
three months away. I am interested to see how all of our plants
will be affected by this crazy weather pattern. It sounds as if
winter (ice and snow) is being
reintroduced to us this weekend and then the temperatures
are expected to steadily climb back
into the 40's by late
next week. This weather pendulum is becoming a difficult
one to ride.
garden beds adequately mulched?
If not you
may have some over-eager bloomers poking out.
Without mulch they will also be susceptible to damage from the
coming freeze. Keep in mind that as long as your plants
have not gone to flower they should be fine but keeping 2-3
inches of mulch around them is like having a little extra
insurance against leaf burn. At this
time of the year it's best for spring
and summer blooming plants to remain
unexposed to the elements. Small areas
can be mulched with the leaves you haven't raked up yet.
For bigger areas consider a bulk delivery from our friends at
Certain evergreen shrubs, such as yew, juniper and arborvitae
(northern white cedar) have a tendency to accumulate snow during
snowfalls. The weight of the snow
bends the branches of the shrubs, and can cause breakage or
kinking. It is a good idea to
remove most of the snow on these shrubs to reduce such damage.
Do not, however, beat the shrubs
with a snow shovel or other implement. Doing
so will only cause additional damage.
a broom or a brush and as gently as possible remove the snow from
the upper surfaces. Donít be
alarmed if the shrub does not immediately rebound to its former
shape. It is likely that in the
spring, when sap is flowing through the shrub, it will recover
from any bending that may have occurred.
Reiterating what we mentioned above:
There are lots of confused plants that have decided to come out
to play in our recent mild weather. This is the earliest
we can remember seeing this problem in recent years.
Timing is everything of course and it looks like some very cold
weather is right around the corner. If you have bulbs or
other plants peeking out of the soil you would do well by
spreading some mulch or leaves over them before the cold snap
Evergreen plants, particularly broadleaf
evergreens like hollies and some azaleas, appreciate a good
soaking when it warms enough to get the hose out. This is
especially true in a dry or snow-free winter. Remember that it
is deep watering that is most helpful, so when you do get out to
water, make sure the water soaks in to the roots.
African Violet Troubleshooting...
If you grow African violets, take note of
the causes of these potential troubles:
Spotted leaves - this occurs if you allow cool water to
contact the leaves. Use only room temperature water.
Small plants with pale yellow leaves - often caused by
too much light and inadequate fertilization.
Leaves curled downward - may be a result of too low
temperatures (below 60 degrees).
Long leaf stalks and a few or small blooms - often
results when plants don't get enough light.
Buds dry up - this might happen if there is not enough
moisture in the air or soil and if temperatures are too high.
Plants wilt quickly and crown rots - likely they are
getting watered too frequently and/or the drainage may be poor
(due to potting mix or lack of container holes) or the plants
were set too deep into the soil.
Leaf stalks rot where they rub against pot edge - high
salt concentrations on the sides of the pot and near the soil
surface damage the leaf stalks allowing the Botrytis disease
organism to enter. You can protect the stalks by putting a
strip of aluminum foil, paraffin, or a cardboard cover around
the rim of the container.
No flowers - may be due to one or more of the following:
temperature too low, soil is overfertilized, too much light or
too much shade, too much or not enough water, or air contains
Upon purchasing a new houseplant a common mistake made
by many is immediately repotting it in
a decorative container. Unfortunately this puts additional
stress on a plant that may already be pretty stressed
out. A better solution? Simply place the plant, with it's
existing container, inside the decorative pot. Now you have the
best of both worlds.
It's hard for our feathered friends to find
food in the winter months. Keep your feeders full and you
will be rewarded with beautiful garden visitors year round. If
you're interested in attracting specific birds here are
some popular birds and their favorite menu items:
thistle seeds, broken sunflower hearts, oil-type sunflower
Sunflower seeds of all types, safflower, cracked corn,
millet, other seeds, unsalted nutmeats, raisins.
sunflower seeds, cracked unsalted nutmeats, safflower,
white proso millet, finely cracked corn, oil-type sunflower
seed, unsalted nutmeats.
Sunflower seeds of all types, safflower, cracked corn.
sunflower seeds, white and red proso millet, safflower,
cracked corn, wheat, milo, other seeds.
white proso millet, oil-type sunflower seeds, cracked corn,
unsalted nutmeats, sunflower seeds, cracked corn.
Wrap It Up...
If you're worried about snow or ice damage
now is the time to wrap your shrubs with
twine. The branches of plants like boxwood,
arborvitae and columnar junipers are susceptible to splaying or
breaking under the weight of snow and ice. Secure the twine to
the bottom of the trunk and wrap it upward in a spiral form.
After reaching the top of the shrub, begin wrapping downward in
the same spiral pattern until you reach the starting point.
Finish by tying the twine securely to the trunk. Twine should be
removed as soon as the threat of ice and snow has passed.
"It may be argued
further that real beauty is neither in garden nor landscape, but
in the relation of both to the individual, that what we are
seeing is not only a scenic setting for pool and fountain and
parterre, but a background for life."
Sir George Sitwell