September 12, 2014 2:00 am
Below are five of the most common garden varieties, and ways to prepare them for the first frost:
1. Hydrangeas: To keep them safe this winter, start by tracking the weather. When temperatures will be consistently below freezing, cover the crown of your hydrangea with mulch, leaves or straw before snow arrives. Snow insulates the crown and keeps it alive.
If you don’t have snow, be sure the crown is fully protected by covering the plant with a garbage bag full of leaves. Alternatively, you can plant a re-blooming hydrangea that blooms on previous year's growth and new growth. That means that even if a cold winter kills buds on last season's growth, you will still see blooms on new growth in late spring and summer.
2. Roses: Roses can mean apprehension for many gardeners, especially when it comes to cold winter hardiness in the northern part of the United States. Cover new plantings with mulch, oak leaves or marsh hay in an 8-inch mound from the crown once temperatures are below 32 degrees Fahrenheit and the plant has gone completely dormant. An added tip: keep the plants disease-free throughout winter and spring by raking away fallen leaves and petals before mulching or snowfall.
3. Evergreens: To prevent winter burn, plant varieties of evergreen that are extremely cold-tolerant and will survive even the worst of winters. If you have a collector plant or two that tends to struggle in the winter, cover it with burlap or other material for the coldest and windiest days. If you have heavy snow and notice branches breaking under the weight, brush snow off the weakest limbs.
4. Trees: If your trees are starting to change color earlier than normal, especially in these first weeks of September, it may be a sign of stress. This can be caused by poor soil conditions, too much or too little water, or if the tree is planted too deeply. You can either transplant the tree, switch to weekly watering of your lawn, or grade the soil so that the root flare (where the trunk flares out to the root system) is even with the soil level.
5. Container Plantings: As you prepare for winter, there are a few options for homeowners to protect container plants: treat them like annuals, tossing the plants away and start fresh the next spring; plant in the ground to over-winter the shrubs; or keep the containers and protect them from the winter cold.
Looking ahead to another colder-than-average winter may seem discouraging, but with a few extra preparations, homeowners and gardeners can set the stage for a beautiful and blooming spring.
Source: Bailey Nurseries
Published with permission from RISMedia.