Crazy Winter Weather

No complaints about the weather this winter but we do need to watch some of our plants in the garden.  Wide temperature fluctuations can be hard on plants.  Warm days followed by freezing nights can cause bark injury on trees with thin, smooth bark.  Freezing and thawing of soil can result in heaving of shallow-rooted perennials.  This repeated freezing and thawing causes the soil to expand and contract, which can lift up or heave some plants out of the soil.  Heaving may break off some of the roots and exposes the plant’s crown and remaining roots to cold temperatures and drying winds.  Perennials with shallow root systems and plants planted or divided in late fall are susceptible to heaving during their first winter.  Some perennials which heave occasionally are: Scabiosa, Heuchera, Coreopsis, Gaura, Tiarella, Gaillardia, Chrysanthemum, and Leucanthemum.

If plants are heaving in your garden, place soil around the base of the plant to cover any exposed roots. You may gently push the plant back into the ground and cover with straw.   Mulch should be applied to newly-planted perennials in the fall after several hard frosts.  Wrap young and thin-barked trees (maples, willows) to protect from fluctuating winter temperatures; use burlap or special tree wrap from your local nursery.

One last tip is to buy plants that are healthy and are well-suited to our crazy weather.  Native plants are usually well-adapted to local conditions.

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