Cold pro­tec­tion for your shrubs

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By Ricky Ens­ley Polk County Ex­ten­sion Co­or­di­na­tor

I often hear sto­ries of how home­own­ers plan to pro­tect their shrubs dur­ing a cold snap. Some­times home­own­ers have good in­ten­tions, but they do more dam­age than pro­tec­tion of their shrubs dur­ing a cold snap.

If your shrubs and trees have been prop­erly cared for then they should come through this win­ter with lit­tle or no prob­lems. Keep these tips in mind in or­der to pre­vent dam­age this year.

Main­tain a three to five inch layer of mulch around plants at all times. Mulch helps to in­su­late root sys­tems. Mulch also helps to pro­tect the soil from rapid tem­per­a­ture fluc­tu­a­tions.

Do not prune dur­ing a cold snap. You may wait un­til March to shape most ev­er­greens and sum­mer blooming plants. Re­mem­ber to prune spring blooming plants such as aza­leas, for­sythia and spirea af­ter flow­er­ing.

Do not fer­til­ize at this time. Fer­til­iz­ing now, like prun­ing, may stim­u­late growth that fu­ture cold con­di­tions would likely in­jure or kill.

Cover ten­der plants with old quilts, blan­kets, or sheets to help re­duce frost and cold dam­age. This tech­nique may not be prac­ti­cal for all plants, but it can be used to pro­tect a spe­cial shrub, semi hardy plants, etc. It may be nec­es­sary to use sticks or poles to prop up blan­kets, quilts or other heavy cov­er­ing to pre­vent branches or limbs from break­ing. Plas­tic can be used as a night­time cover too, but be sure to take it off on sunny warm days to pre­vent heat dam­age to plants.

For more in­for­ma­tion on cold dam­age, con­tact the Polk County Ex­ten­sion of­fice at 770-749-2142 or by e-mail [email protected]

Ricky Ens­ley

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