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The warm days of winter?

By February 14, 2012News

Winter.  Many dislike the ongoing white bleak landscape outside our windows. Here’s the thing; Perennials, shrubs, lawns, and trees NEED a deep snow cover to keep them insulated over the cruel Canadian Winter.

Insulation is vital for root bound plants to maintain their strength and show vibrant growth, produce blooms and to stay warm.  With a winter like we’ve experienced in southern Ontario this year, a continual freeze thaw and above seasonal temperatures there are likely signs in your garden of heaving plants. Those planted during the late fall normally don’t have an opportunity to set roots before the cold season began. In any normal transition from fall to winter, plants go to sleep. This year however, and you may have seen it in your gardens, the ground didn’t really freeze or have any snow cover until late in December.  So a mild fall may have given roots time to grab hold of the surrounding soil. Maybe. We won’t really know until spring.

Bulbs especially need the cold temperatures. It leads to autumn dormancy. Upon receiving the early spring warmth, they convert the built up energy and burst forth with growth and reliable spring blooms.

Those of you who left last years’ plant material in your garden will be looking to remove the refuse in the spring. Be especially careful this year as likely, shoots will have started and be close to, or at, the surface. Rake very gently this year. If you did remove the spent stems, leaves etc from your garden, without mulching may face an abnormal number of plants that will not perform as well as normal this year. How could they? They’ve been shivering all winter being exposed to the elements.

Things to think about this spring:

–          For plants that have heaved due to frequent freeze thaw cycles require special attention. When the soil thaws, gently press the plants down to soil level to ensure roots have contact with the soil. Mulch around these plants with decomposed leaves or a healthy covering of compost. Mulch will help to hold the plant in place.

–          For plants placed in beds late last year: Monitor their growth habits and if they have dies, remove them from your beds.

–          Mulch and Compost are even more essential this year. Be generous with the covering in early spring.