Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Get Your Garden Ready for the Cold Snap

Looks like we're going to have one those once-in-a-blue-moon-moon snaps that has the potential to do significant damage in the garden. You can help mitigate the damage by doing the following:

- Mulch over the root zones of trees and shrubs, and over the crowns of dormant perennials. A 4" layer should be adequate. (Make sure to remove mulch from plant crowns just before growth resumes in spring, and make sure mulch does not rest against the trunks and stems of woody plants.)

- Cover any damage-prone plants such as aucuba, oleander, euonymus, gardenia, ternstroemia, osmanthus as well as any that are in bloom or have buds that are opening such as camellia and daphne. Old blankets make good plant covers. Plastic is not the best choice but tarps are not bad. Sheets are fine but not as protective as a thicker material.

- Bring in container plants and store them in the garage or under the house. If you don't have room for that, huddle the pots together against the house, preferably on a sunny south or west side, and cover them up.

- If you have time, you can put Christmas lights on susceptible plants to add some warmth. These can go under a covering such as a blanket for even more protection.

- Water evergreen plants before freezing weather sets in. This will help prevent them from dessicating. Evergreens can't take up water when the soil is frozen but they continue to lose moisture through their leaves.

- Bring in hoses and glazed pots. Some glazes will crack and peel as a result of freezing weather especially if it rains. Hoses will last a lot longer if they don't get frozen and thawed all winter.

Tina Mast
Communications Director