I've been gardening and writing about gardening for more than 20 years, yet I find I'm always learning new things about the plants, insects and other critters that call my backyard home. That's the great thing about gardening — it's never boring! I've worked as a landscaper, on an organic farm, as a research technician in a plant pathology lab and ran a small cut-flower business, all of which inform my garden writing. Someone once asked me when I'll be finished with my gardens, to which I replied, "Never!" For me, gardening is a process, not a goal.
IF last winter's extreme weather took its toll on your landscape plants, you aren't alone. Last spring, gardeners nationwide discovered what a harsh winter can do to roses, trees and shrubs. The Old Farmer's Almanac predicts another hard winter ahead. Fortunately, you can take steps in autumn to prepare plants for what's coming.
Winter damage on an evergreen shrub
ShrubJackets protect against drying winds, as well as sunscald, salt spray and animal browsing.
Extreme cold isn't the only challenge faced by woody plants; in fact, plants hardy to your region should endure normal winter temperatures just fine. However, winter can wreak havoc in other ways.
Although wet, heavy snow can damage branches, snow cover is usually good for plants. A layer of snow provides moisture and helps insulate the soil and roots from fluctuating temperatures.
Healthy plants are more likely to get through winter unscathed. A plant that has struggled during the growing season, whether due to insufficient sunlight, water or nutrients, or heavy damage from insects or disease, will enter winter in a vulnerable state. Start your winter-protection strategy with careful care during the growing season and into autumn.
Here are tips for specific types of plants:
Deciduous shrubs and trees — those that lose their leaves in autumn — have adapted to life in cold-winter climates by going dormant. Many of these techniques are designed to ensure that plants enter dormancy before the coldest weather arrives, and remain dormant until spring.
Mature trees and shrubs that are hardy in your region need no extra protection. However, young and newly planted trees and shrubs benefit from some extra TLC:
You can find tree wrap and guards at garden centers and hardware stores.
Trees and shrubs that remain green — conifers and broadleaf evergreens, such as rhododendrons — slow their growth but never go fully dormant. It's especially important that they have a ready supply of water whenever the ground isn't frozen.
Our innovative Rosy Cozy™ protects roses from extreme cold and temperature fluctuations.
Key features of the Rosy Cozy
Many shrub roses and rugusa roses are hardy and need no winter protection, but hybrid teas are another story. These tender, grafted roses need extra protection in regions where temperatures may drop below 10 degrees F.
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