The weather is getting colder which means it is time to prepare your garden bed for winter. Proper care of your trees, shrubs, and perennials in fall will help ensure they remain healthy through the winter months.
The most important thing to remember is to maintain watering up until the ground freezes (especially for evergreens). Fall watering is important because it gives plants a reserve for winter. Check your soil a few times a week, it should be moist about an inch down. If your soil is starting to dry out, put your hose on low and give the roots a deep soak. Established plants need approximately 1” of water per week and newly planted trees and shrubs require up to 2” of water per week. Overwatering can occur so check your soil before watering and if it is still saturated, wait to water and check again in a couple of days.
Our nursery manager April recommends spraying neem oil on your Boxwoods and Dwarf Alberta Spruces. This will help control spider mites in the fall to decrease the insect load next spring.
For winter protection, wait until the first hard frost and plants are dormant. It is a good idea to construct a burlap fence around newly planted evergreens. This helps prevent the wind and sun from pulling moisture out of the plant’s foliage during winter. When you go to burlap your evergreens, you don’t want to place the burlap directly on your plant. Instead, use wooden stakes that are an appropriate height for your tree or shrub and staple the burlap to the stakes creating a fence around the evergreens. You don’t need to go over the shrubs, but you do want to burlap as tall as the shrubs are.
We recommend wrapping young tree trunks (less than 5 years old) with tree wrap to prevent frost cracks and animal damage over the winter. Remove both burlap and tree wrap in early spring.
Commonly asked questions:
April recommends not to do any major pruning of shrubs or perennials in the fall. Shearing encourages new growth that will not have time to harden off before winter. You may have some dieback in the winter so waiting until spring allows you to remove any dead stems or branches and shape the plant at the same time. Leave perennial plant material from this year in your garden through winter. It helps beneficial insects through the winter and gives insulation to the root system. The only time you’d want to remove it is if there’s a disease or pest issue. Tree branches can be removed in late fall through winter while the tree is dormant.
Why isn’t my hydrangea blooming?
The big leaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) do require some winter protection to increase the blooming for the following year. Also, they should not be cut back in the fall. Wait until they leaf out in the spring and only remove dead stems. Check out this video by Endless Summer that goes over how to winter protect your Hydrangea macrophylla to increase your chance of blooming in the spring: https://endlesssummerblooms.com/resource/protecting-hydrangeas-for-winter/