Blog Archives

Don’t Think Your All Alone!

Not going to be a long post today, just a quick note to help some of my friends out there feel better about their gardening skills.  I just wanted to set some minds at ease.  To those of you who have old yews, rhodies, or other evergreens that don’t appear to have survived the winter, YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES!  I talked in the fall about the importance of watering in the winter months when possible and here is the proof of it’s necessity.  Many, many of you have serious damage to old, established evergreens which you have never given any special care before during the winter.  My point is you’ve been lucky till now, LOL!

ImageNow don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I told you so, (but I did tell you so).  I’m just saying that many of you have recently become Mother Nature’s latest victims.  Your evergreens have been assaulted with winter burn due to lack of moisture during the long dry months and crazy temps.  And sadly, there is a very high probability that all your precious plants have “shuffled off their barky coil”.  Many rhodies out there look just like the sad little guy in the picture.  And even his distinguished big brothers and sisters look quite similar.  Many coniferous shrubs do appear to still have a spark of life in them, but will they ever fully recover is very difficult to predict.

 

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As you can see from this photo, their does still appear to be a glimmer of hope here, albeit very slight.  In this case, the best recommendation I have is that you immediately begin DEEP watering and get some good evergreen fertilizer or one with a high nitrogen content (the first of the 3 numbers listed on the package) according to the fertilizer instruction.

I would throw out there, that I don’t suggest trimming plants or worse than that, replacing them, until your certain they are not going to recover.  I know it can be tough to except since they tend to be unattractive while injured, but give them the summer to recover and if you still don’t see and results, then replace them either that fall or spring of the next season.  That being said if a coniferous evergreen completely drops its needles, it is NOT likely to recover.

Now, another family of plants that seems to have taken a massive hit this winter is roses.  However, I would certainly like to reassure you; just because all the old canes on your rose are grey and break easily, the plant is certainly NOT deceased.  Many roses will die back to the ground during difficult winters.  Then they will produce new shoots far down on old canes or even directly up from the ground off of old healthy root systems.  After you begin to see the new shoots feel free to trim back the old canes.  Again though, your going to want to feed with a good fertilizer (either a balanced mix or one specifically designed for your particular species of rose.) And of course, get the poor little guy some water!

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got today.  Like I said, I just wanted you to know that your not alone.  And as always, GOOD LUCK AND KEEP GROWING!!!

Anyone Else Getting Anxious For Some Green?!?!

It’s the beginning of February and we’ve reached what may be the coldest temps of the season so far (at least here in the Midwest).  I saw a funny post on Facebook yesterday (one of those goofy e-cards everyone seems to have on their pages now) stating, “I’m tired of winter.  I want to fast-forward so I can bitch about how hot it is!”  Guess you had to be there, but I thought it was funny….AEcardnyway, if you are getting the green urges there are certainly some things you can do to quench your thirst, if only a little.

The first, and lowest commitment, task you could do would be to begin setting goals and planning your summer garden activities.  Do you plan on changing up your landscape at all?  What is working in your landscaping and what isn’t?  Did you find a new plant last summer that you just couldn’t fit into your beds?  Now is the time to look back at your plantings and decide if you want to change anything up.  Perhaps you’ve got some Little Henry Sweetspire in a foundation bed that don’t seem to be growing as well as those further out in the yard.  Start thinking about where there might be some  space further out that you could move the smaller guys but still have a nice flow in your beds.  It’s not uncommon at all the the same plant will grow differently in two different areas of your yard.  We call this “putting the right plant in the right place”.  Even in the same yard different micro-climates can occur and if a plant is borderline hardy it may do well in one location of your yard but not in another.  Perhaps the Sweetspire are just not getting the same moisture under the eve of your roof as the ones out further in the yard or perhaps it’s more shade than they would prefer.  Any number of things can affect the growth of a plant and it takes some work and even some trial and error to learn what will work well in your space.  Now that you’ve decided to move that Sweetspire, you can start doing your homework to decide if that Hydrangea you found last summer is a good fit for the vacated space.

The first thin I would caution is completely trusting the tag on a particular plant.  While these tags are a perfect jumping off point, they seldom have all the information a person truly needs to adhere to that “right plant, right place” concept.  Worse than that, if your buying your plants from a “Box-shop” (a big name chain that isn’t strictly a plant centered business) I have seen many instances where the tags are just plain wrong.

Not all tags are created equally.

Not all tags are created equally.

These places hire folks who typically have no horticulture background or knowledge and sometimes tags get accidentally switched or lost and these people sadly don’t have sufficient education to know the difference.  Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT saying you shouldn’t buy your plants from a box-shop (but you shouldn’t buy your plants from a box-shop, lol); however, I do highly recommend that your do your homework prior to purchasing.   With the internet practically in everyone’s pocket these days, there is no excuse for being uninformed.  Again, though, I would caution against trusting the internet mail order sites.  Many of those sites know just as little as the box-shops do sadly.  I would steer you towards websites that are managed by universities or botanical centers.  Generally, these are updated on a more regular basis and the information is based on research and experience.  Honestly, my go-to website if I’m not sure about a particular plant is the Missouri Botanical Garden Website Plant Finder Resource.  This source is great for me because it is close to home with a similar climate and it’s an extensive database.  Others such as the USDA plant database, or Ohio State University and UConn are excellent resources as well.  All I’m saying is do a little research before you buy that plant and stick it in the border of your landscape just because the tag said it was full sun and it only gets 18 inches tall.  That may be the case in Tennessee, but in your zone it is actually part shade and as a result gets closer to 30 inches tall (just an example, but you never know).

The point of the story is DON’T BE AFRAID TO CHANGE IT UP!  As a general rule, your garden space is a living, breathing thing that will (and SHOULD) change over time.  Plants will die, things will grow differently than we expected, and our tastes will change.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not an advocate of throwing away perfectly healthy plants.  But you don’t have to kill plants for these changes to occur.  I can assure you, even if you don’t like a particular plant or can’t find the perfect place for it in your garden, you know someone who would or knows someone else who would gladly give that plant a new home!

So there you have it, thseed packse first tip for curing your wintertime blues!  Next time will discuss another surefire way to clear out the winter cobwebs.  A much more hands on task than playing on the internet!  Next blog we will talk about planning for your kitchen garden!  I will share seed starting tips and time-frames as well as ideas for a well rounded kitchen garden.  I’ll also provide insight into some of the tools you can use to increase success and ideas for saving cash while still utilizing those tools.

GOOD LUCK AND KEEP GROWING!!!!

Caring for your Evergreens during the winter months.

Even these young Columnar White Pines will need some "lovin" during the winter months.

Even these young Columnar White Pines will need some “lovin” during the winter months.

Well, according to Weather.com our days of 60 degree temps are coming to a close here in the Omaha area.  It appears the average daily high for the month of November will be just under 48 degrees (F).  This means its high time you prepare your evergreens for winter. You should make sure to give all your evergreens a good deep watering prior to the ground freezing.  As a general rule plants need about 10 gallons of water for every inch of caliper (so a 2 inch caliper tree would need about 20 gallons of water) Caliper is the width of the tree trunk about 12″ from the ground (unless it’s a large, established tree, then it is done at chest height).  If your hand watering with just a hose a good rule of thumb is about 5 minutes at medium pressure equals about 10 gallons of water.  Thus if we water our 2″ tree for 20 minutes at medium pressure it should be getting a good drink. Plants “sweat” just like humans do.  This primarily occurs through the leaf structure.  With evergreens this would be the needles, which they don’t lose like your other plants.  This opens the door to a problem known as Winter Burn.  They are “sweating” but the ground is frozen so they aren’t able to take up water through the roots.  Don’t think that just because there is snow on the ground that the plant is getting water.  If the ground is frozen so is the moisture.  To counter this we us a chemical called an ANTI DESICCANT.  The best way to describe this is that it acts as a wax to coat the evergreens needles or leaves to help slow the “sweating” during periods when little or no water is available (although it is not actually a wax).   The best time to apply anti desiccant is when the temps are starting to stay below 50 degrees during mid-day.  However you want to make sure there is no threat of rain or frost within 24 hours (the chemical may not fully adhere).  The other thing to keep in mind is that warm temps can “melt” the chemical off as well, so you may need to re-apply later in the season to maintain protection.  It’s not difficult, you simply spray onto the plant to the point of runoff.  This should help keep your plant from losing water when none is available to replenish it. Keep in mind that even if it is “winter” if we don’t have temps below freezing and still aren’t getting any moisture, you’re going to NEED TO GIVE YOUR PLANTS A DRINK!  Don’t just forget about them because your sprinkler system is off and you don’t feel like dragging a hose.  This could be a costly decision.  Also, DON’T FORGET YOUR BROADLEAF EVERGREENS!  Not all evergreens have needles (and not all needle tree’s are evergreens for that matter).  Plants like Boxwood, Yew, Rhododendron and Holly are especially susceptible to winter burn and should be treated as well. An added bonus of your anti desiccant is that you can even use it on your Holiday Cut Greens such as live wreaths or table center pieces to help them last longer as well.  Even your “live” Christmas tree would benefit greatly from a good coating.  Although I would hope that the folks you purchase the tree from took care of this for you.  Might be a good thing to ask when deciding who to purchase your tree from. GOOD LUCK AND KEEP GROWING!!