The abrupt change in weather from recently, is a not too subtle hint that it is time to prepare trees and shrubs, not just flower beds for winter. Some trees require more care than others. Preparation may include pruning, spray, wrapping, and even bud capping, depending on the tree.
Once deciduoustrees have dropped their leaves it is obvious as to whether branches and limbs need to be pruned due to breakage, disease, or crossed limbs. Prune back into live un-splintered or diseased wood or to where the branch connects to the trunk. Remove branches that are not attached but wedged or hanging.
Contact an insured tree company to prune what you cannot easily reach from the ground.
Spray deciduous plants with dormant oil to kill overwintering insects(source: farm stores or nurseries). Due to the needle and broadleaf surface of evergreens, they are more susceptible to dry winter conditions. Spray an anti-desiccant that will help hold the moisture.
Wrap newly planted trees, saplings, dwarfs, weak, thin-barked, those in strong-wind locations and full sun, and deer favorites.
Wrapping methods: Place three stakes taller than the tree and evenly spaced around the tree. Wrap burlap around the stakes and securely attach to each to form a triangular cage. Loosely wrap burlap, around the trunk, and tie with twine. Secure the twine at the top, middle and bottom. Thin-barked trees may be wrapped with paper-based tree wrap, or rain gutter guard mesh. Using the gutter guard, wrap several times around the trunk. It permits air circulations and shades the trunk. It is the winter sun and warmer day temperatures with sub-freezing night temperatures that cause the bark to crack making it susceptible to insects and disease.
Protect new white pines from deer, by placing a 4”x6” piece of white paper folded in half around the terminal bud growth so that some of the needles show. Staple the paper catching some of the needles at the top, middle and bottom. Un-protected from deer, it will be stunted and not grow as tall or as fast.
- Beech retains its foliage until spring.
THINGS TO DOGarden — To keep container mums blooming, water 2-3 times a week. Even slightly dry soil will shorten the bloom periods. Harvest saffron thread-thin red anthers to use in cooking. Cut bulb foliage to the ground and mark location with a clear plastic knife. Remove spent annuals. Leave perennial seed heads for the birds and winter interest. Dig goldenrod that has dropped its seed.
Install quick-release hose connections for ease of un-attaching garden hoses. Before daytime temperatures are consistently at freezing, remove the hose from the reel to completely drain it.
Houseplants — Save the water used to rinse sprouts to water the houseplants. Mist plants or place on a pebble tray to increase humidity. Fill the tray or saucer halfway with pebbles(available at craft stores) and water. Do not let the container sit in water.
Start forcing multi-flowered paperwhite daffodils and amaryllis. ‘Ziva’ is the most popular paperwhite(Daffodil tazetta), ‘lnbal’ is mildly scented and ‘Ariel’ the most fragrant.
Lawn — Leaves are our most valuable and underrated mulch, if they are chopped. Chop the leaves using a leaf vacuum/blower or change the mower blade to a mulching blade. Loosely scatter the dry leaves under shallow rooted shrubs to give winter protection. If possible, avoid maple and poplar leaves as they tend to mat, act as a water-barrier and provide a nice winter home for mice.
Vegetables — Herbs dig to bring in for the winter will lose some of their leaves until they adjust to the light and temperature conditions. Plant garlic before the soil freezes. Start lettuce and spinach to move to a cold frame. Assess what to and not to plant and how much, next year.
Contact Carolyn Roof, The Sun’s gardening columnist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.