Last Chance before Christmas!siteadmin
December: Last Chance before Christmas!
It’s December, the season of poinsettias everywhere, and whatever you didn’t get done in the autumn garden needs to get done now. Soon, we’ll wake up and there will be 2 feet of snow on the ground. Then you’ll be stuck! If you bought bulbs and haven’t planted them yet, now is the time to get them in the ground.
If you need to wrap tender plants, you should wait until the temperature drops and stays down. Right now, we have 10 degrees one day, 0 degrees the next, then back up to 9 degrees. Once that levels out, you can wrap your tender plants that need a windbreak for the winter. I’ve seen some pretty funny things over the years. I’ve seen people using garbage bags to wrap their plants. I’ve seen tarps, and I’ve even seen someone using shrink wrap! Those are the things you cannot use! Your plants are still living, and they need to breathe! They’re not dead! They have just gone dormant for the winter.
Evergreens and Broadleaved Evergreens
Evergreens and broadleaved evergreens like rhododendrons, cedars, and yews are still alive, but they have slowed down in their growth for the winter. So, if you put anything around them that can’t breathe, during the day when the sun is out, they create moisture in that wrapped plastic. The moisture can’t evaporate because it’s got nowhere to go. Then, when the temperature drops at night, it freezes. If that happens off and on for a couple of weeks, it will cause your plants to burn. When you unwrap them in the spring, they’re going to be brown.
Because your plants need to breathe, burlap is the best thing to use. It will let a little air in and out. The other thing is, don’t wrap burlap around the plant itself. Put three or four wooden stakes in the ground and wrap around them. You can use a staple or twist tie or whatever on the stakes. I’ve seen cedars where people have taken string and wrapped it around in such a way that they always get that indentation in the plant. You can tell that the plants were “stringed up” for the winter. It’s always better to put stakes in the ground and wrap burlap around them to give them protection. You are basically protecting them from severe weather, like freezing rain and harsh winds.
Another factor to think about is, if you have to wrap a plant, is it the right plant for that spot? You should think about that long before you get to the tree-wrapping stage. Is it the right plant for that spot if you will have to protect it? Northwest winds are the worst, so plan accordingly for the right spot to plant.
You may also be protecting your plants from road salt if they are situated close to a road. Even on a dry windy day, the wind can carry the salt to your plants. That might be something you need to think about. Maybe it is simply adding extra protection for young plants that you just planted this season, and you want to get them well-rooted in the ground. It might take an extra season for that to happen.
Roses tend to go against the rules of everything else you plant. If you have tender roses—which you can usually identify by the graft union which is a big, nubby, gnarly base that all the branches grow from—you should plant that nub two to three inches below the soil level when you plant it the first time, because that helps to protect it from frost. If it’s above the soil and you don’t cover it with anything, the frost in the winter can kill the rose that you wanted and the old rootstock will come up, which will look totally different from the hybrid tea or grandiflora you purchased. They are all grafted, so you would lose that part and just have the wild wood stock left.
If you didn’t plant the nub two or three inches below the soil level, the best thing to do is to pour a foot of soil down over the crown so that it buries it about a foot deep. Use something easily removed in the spring. You can use peat moss or saw dust, or anything that can be easily removed back down to where the graft is again.
We never really have to wrap trees, but if you are on a lake or superexposed, you might want to put a stake or a couple of stakes in the ground. You can get stake kits where it gives you the ties and the stakes that look like the pegs that you use on your tent with guy wires that will stabilize the tree. You never want to stake it so that it’s rigid. It has to be able to move and bend with the wind. Contrary to what most people believe, you do not leave the stakes on for two or three years. Conventional wisdom says 6 to 8 months maximum will allow that tree to grow up and learn how to bend on its own.
At this time of year, Blomidon can provide Christmas gifts if you’re struggling to figure out what to buy for your favorite people. We have poinsettias, wreaths, and garden supplies, or you could always get them gift cards and let them choose for themselves. We have some Christmas ornaments, but we also have everything needed for everyday gardening. We have some seeds now, too, which make great stocking stuffers. You could easily put a kit together with a little bag of soil, some seed trays, and some packages of seeds to get an early start. We just received nineteen pallets of spring supplies, so we’re nicely stocked and ready for customers.
With all that said, here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy Gardening in 2023!