Putting Your Garden to Sleep for the Winter

by Morrisons on September 17, 2014

Now that we’ve had several hard frosts it’s time to put your garden to sleep for a long nap. As a rule of thumb all planting beds should be mulched for the winter. If they are beds with woody ornamentals then 2 to 3 inches of bark mulch will do the trick. Pine needles also can be used too! Mulch saves the purpose of conserving soil moisture and helps protect the plant roots from thawing and freezing action.

For the perennial garden a mulch of salt marsh hay or a product called Mainly Mulch will do the trick. Mainly Mulch is an oat or wheat straw product that has been chopped and heat-treated to destroy the weed seeds. Care should be taken not to put this product on too soon for it will invite more damage from mice and voles. Once your perennials have died back they can be safely cut back to 2 to 3 inches above the crown. I usually prefer to leave my grasses alone until spring for they add so much interest to my winter landscape.

One additional note, do not prune your roses until spring has arrived. Be sure you have hilled up mulch or soil over the bud graft. If you have tree roses where the bud graft is elevated 2 to 4 ft. above the ground then the best way to preserve you plant is to partially uproot the tree and bury it in a trench to get the graft covered.

Protecting your broadleaf evergreens (think rhododendron) and needled evergreens employ a different strategy. In addition to mulching the root system an anti-desiccant or anti-transparent can be applied to the foliage to prevent winter burn. Winter burn or leaf scald is caused when the ground is frozen and drying sun and wind evaporate more water than the plant can bring up to the leaves. At best you end up with a bronzed leaf or worse a dead plant by spring time. Plants most at risk to this are new plants put in this year and plants in an exposed location to sun and wind. Last season was particularly bad due to a lack of snow cover combined with the below freezing temperatures. We carry 3 different products that are similar. Wilt Pruf, Wilt Stop, and No Wilt.

The original and product we stock at Morrison’s is Wilt Pruf. It is best applied as late in the season as possible with temperatures above 40 degrees so the product can dry on the leaves. You can apply it a second time in February when we get a mid winter thaw. It is great on all broad-leafed evergreens. On needled evergreens I have shied away from using it on scaled needled types like arborvitae. The danger when applying to this type is that if the plant has not sufficiently hardened off then there will be excessive moisture in the needle that will freeze and rupture the cell wall.

For these type plants in exposed windy locations I would recommend using burlap to wrap it up. Another note is that on glaucas or blue needled plants the needle will turn green when sprayed. The new growth when it comes out the next spring will still be blue. Another timely use for this product is for your holiday decorations. Wilt Pruf will work wonders in helping your tree, wreath or swag look great through the season.

Have an empty urn or pot from the summer? Cut some mixed boughs of your favorite evergreen and stick them in to the soil. Mix in some winterberry or red twig dog wood and you can have a great looking pot lasting till it’s time to plant with pansies.

If you have any question please feel free to email us or drop by and we’ll glad to help you out.