Wednesday, December 23, 2015

January Plant Health

As we roll into 2016 with a new year and a few resolutions, we need to be certain to include winter plant health on the list. There are few plants that need a bit of care in the winter but seem to be forgotten about until it becomes too late and there are problems.
Grasses can be cut back at this time or burned if you can do it without getting a fire truck called out on you. They will dry out and begin to shatter soon.  It is much easier to cut them back at this time.

Hydrangea, crapemyrtle and other late blooming plants should have the flower heads cut off now.  Removing the extra weight will protect them should we have ice loads in January, February or March.

Arborvitae care in the winter can be a little time consuming but these multi stemmed trees may need to be tied up for winter support. Heavy snow loads can bring them to the ground and they will look like a fountain instead of a columnar tree.

Tree wrap is important for crabapple, maple, linden, locust and all young trees. Tree wrap will help protect young crabapples from rodent damage on the trunks should we have extended snow coverage.  With the slow shut down and late freeze this year, thin skinned trees need to have the bark protected from sunscald.  Keeping the sun off the trunk in the winter will help moderate the temperatures and prevent the trees from waking up early.  Fluctuating temperatures in the late winter, early spring can cause the sap to flow on warm days causing damage to the trunks.

Successful planting requires that care be given to the root system. Don't get lethargic in the winter and dig the hole and then slam the plant in the ground.  Care should be given with the roots of container plants to ensure good root to soil contact.  Break up any girdling roots with your bare hands, pruners, or a knife.  Amend the backfill with good compost.  Water in thoroughly, allowing the water to overflow the hole.  Following these steps will prevent creating air pockets around the roots and help alleviate freeze drying the root system.  Caring for the root system of all container plants is recommended as the plants will establish much faster and will perform better once the heat gets turned up on them that first summer.

Looking forward to seeing all your faces at the Western on January 21-22. Chad and I are presenting a learning center session in Loma Vista's booth -  Do it Right, Planning to Planting.  We are including design, plant choices, hauling plants, and planting tips in our presentation.

Have a great new year!

Don Mann, KS Certified Arborist, KS Certified Pesticide Applicator, Loma Vista Nursery

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