Make the McKenzie Connection!

8 tips to gear up garden for cold weather

As freezing weather moves in, gardeners may be worrying about how to protect their plants from the cold.

Experts with Oregon State University Extension Service, recommend several ways to guard your landscape from frigid conditions.

* Though snow can act as excellent mulch on the ground, it can also weigh down the branches of shrubs with frail structures such as arborvitae, boxwoods, young rhododendrons and azaleas. Every two to three days, knock the snow off branches and wrap rope around the branches of bushes and shrubs. Tying the branches upward helps restructure the branches to a more upright position before the storm.

* Insulate plants with mulch, compost, leaves or any kind of organic matter that will protect root systems. Snow can also be a good insulator for many plants.

* It's especially important to protect container plants since the pots can freeze. Cover them with compost, mulch, old blankets, sheets or burlap, or anything that can help insulate them. Wrap pots in bubble wrap to provide even more protection. Don't leave pots hanging. Place on the ground and cover.

* Most trees go dormant in the winter and can withstand temperatures in the negative degrees. The exception? Non-native trees that do not have the same cold tolerance. Be sure to check labels before buying and make sure to plant trees with cold hardiness appropriate to your area. Check the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to find your hardiness zone.

* Don't walk on your lawn, especially if there is no snow insulating the grass. Walking on it can break the leaf tissue and damage the grass if it is frozen.

* Keep your greenhouse above 35 degrees and plants inside will likely survive.

* Next spring you may notice some brown freeze streaks and damage on the leaves of the spring-flowering trees and bulbs you put in the ground recently. Cold weather likely will cause a lot of leaf and tissue damage. Frost damage causes leaves to appear water-soaked or shriveled, or to turn dark brown or black - but does not always kill the plant.

Generally, do not water your plants in freezing conditions. But shrubs growing underneath the eaves of a house are susceptible to drought.

Author Bio

Kym Pokorny, Communications Specialist for Oregon State University

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Public Service Communications Specialist


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