Plant Care in Winter
Caring for your plants in winter is important because during the winter months it is easy to forget about our trees, shrubs, grass and perennial plants in the landscape. Most of our plants are dormant or sleeping, and will just come back to life next spring, correct? What you want to remember is even thought they are dormant and are suppose to come back next spring, we still have a responsibility as gardeners not to let them die while in dormant.
Things to remember about dormant plants:
1) Plants still need moisture!
Their roots will continue to grow a little, as long as the ground is not frozen.
2) Small or new plants have a very limited root system.
What this means is they can only draw water from a small/limited area. Think of a baby or toddler, it has to be given water by the parent because its reach is limited. Mature plants have a wider reach (roots) and can get water from a larger area. Much like when an adult is thirsty, we can go help ourselves to water from the sink, instead of having to rely on somebody else.
3) Keep an eye on the soil temperature.
Soil temperatures can heat up if not properly watered.
It takes longer for wet soil to freeze than dry soil. Wet soil also takes longer to thaw, than dry soil.
Since soil is darker in color it absorbs heat that the sun puts out during the day. If the soil is dry, it can heat up quickly and get pretty warm on a mild winter day. At night the soil temperature can fall quickly when the soil is dry. Moist soil temperatures will have less temperature swings because the moisture in the soil takes longer to chill and warm up. These more gradual temperature swings are in fact better for our plant and their root system.
4) If you have mulch, then use it!
Having 2-3″ of mulch on your perennial beds and around your shrubs
Why water in winter is important
Plants are similar to us, when we go from indoors to outdoors back to indoors, our bodies have a hard time adjusting to the sudden temperature change. These dramatic changes can weaken our immune system since our body isn’t use to it. The same rule applies to plants.
Plants in the winter rely on us to continue getting the care they need, even when in a dormant state. Pryor to the little bit of rain we’ve been getting in the blue springs/lee summit area. It’s been well over a month since we’ve had a decent rainfall. So be sure to water your plants, especially if the ground is dry.
“Water is everywhere and in all living things; we cannot be separated from water. No water, no life. Period. Water comes in many forms – liquid, vapor, ice, snow, fog, rain, hail. But no matter the form, it’s still water.”
Tips on watering dormant plants
-If you don’t receive at least 1/2″ of rain or 4″ of snow within 2-3 weeks prior to a major rain/snowfall,
then water once within this time frame for 10-20 minutes.
-Trick of the trade, if you’re not sure whether your plants need water or not then always check the soil.
You can dig a small hole with a trowel, and be sure to feel the soil to check for moisture.