Cold Temperatures Hit Hard in the Garden

Yes, I know it’s January, but there is still plenty to do in the garden these days. The freezing weather of late December and early January really packed a punch, leaving many of our favorite perennials, roses and ornamental grasses looking like they just got KO’d in the 10th round of some heavyweight fight. Well the cold temps. might have won this bout, but don’t count our prize fighters out. They are just taking a long deserved rest after their winning performances all Spring, Summer and Fall. Since they are taking this break, it’s time for us to get them in shape for the Spring season.

A few guidelines to follow to make your Winter pruning of Perennials, Roses and Ornamental Grasses easier:

-If it has turned to mush, cut it back. It will start growing from the roots again in the Spring. This is the case for Daylilies, Crinum Lilies, Alocasia, Colocasia and Gingers to name a few.

-If it looks dried out, burnt, ‘toasted’ or ‘fried’ from the freeze cut it back to the ground. Cuphea, Hamelia, most Lantana, Ruellia and Rusellia are a few examples that we have planted in the Parks that we are working on getting cut back.

-Anything that gives the garden interest and structure should be left until early February. This includes Roses and Ornamental Grasses. Sure they might not be blooming anymore, but their height, form, texture and even color still add interesting elements to the Winter garden. Plus, if Roses are cut back too early, we could easily get a week of warm weather that would make them flush out too early. It’s best to wait!

-After cutback of your perennials, don’t mulch too heavy. If you feel you need to mulch, use something light such as leaf litter. For me, there are already so many leaves on the ground and in the beds anyway, so why fight it? By using leaves, you are covering the roots to protect them, but not smothering the roots while they are not actively growing. The leaf cover also helps control some of those inevitable Winter Weeds that pop up. If you want to use a wood based mulch such as shredded Pine Bark, wait until March.

-Do not prune any Spring flowering shrubs such as Azaleas or Hydrangeas at this time. You will be cutting off all the flower buds for the Spring bloom. These should only be pruned directly after flowering has occurred in the Spring.

-While you are out cutting back your 2009 champions, start thinking about the 2010 edition of your garden. Now is the time to order seeds, Summer Bulbs and other plants from the mail order catalogs. I know there’s a lot of work to do in the meantime, but….

Spring isn’t all that far away!

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