Twig Tips by Jodie

Posted on March 20, 2014 by jo

Whew!  What a Winter!

Whew, what a winter....and HELLO Spring!  Thank goodness you've arrived.  But what about our poor plants?  They've just endured the coldest winter in the last 30 years.  What can we expect to see this spring in our yards and gardens?  I'm putting on my special glasses so that I can see into the future and give you a head's up.  Here we go....

I see a lot of the color brown in the months to come.  It is not unusual for trees, shrubs and perennials to look badly damaged, sick or even dead as we head into the spring season.  I see a lot of broken branches from snow, ice build-up, and snow plow damage.  Go ahead and trim the badly damaged branches out of the tree/shrub.  Make a clean cut back to a point about 1/4" from a bud or branch.  Now be patient and wait for the new growth to begin.  It will then be much easier to determine exactly how much winter damage a plant has suffered and how much additional pruning will need to be done. You may have to take out some healthy branches to help the plant look more balanced until it's able to get enough new growth to recover its shape.  What if the plant doesn't have broken branches but is just plain brown (the case with a lot of broad-leaved plants like rhodos, hollies, azaleas, etc).  Often times these leaves will just fall off and be replaced by new ones.  Again, be patient.

I also see some evergreens looking fine now and then turning brown later this spring (these glasses are GREAT, I see a lot of things in the future...maybe I can see next week's winning lottery numbers, if you don't see any future blogs, it's 'cause they worked and I WON!)  ANYWAY.....if this happens, you may have to perform last rites.  Probably an indicator of root damage from extreme cold.  We have had a tendency to try some plants from a zone further south, thinking that warmer winters were in our future.  Mother Nature decided to fool us, so kiss a few plants goodbye and next time stick to those labeled Zone 4-5. 

As far as grasses and perennials go, they will be brown in color too but that's normal.  Just go ahead and cut them back a couple of inches from the ground as you would in a normal year, new growth will flush in most cases as it begins to warm up.  Again, some marginally hardy plants will have probably taken "the trip", never to return.  Just remember to WAIT, be sure they are dead before replacing them.  The old adage "Haste makes waste" could definitely apply in this situation.

I am going to tell you the last thing I see with my special glasses.  Or rather, what I DON'T see.  Bugs.  The good news is that we may have less insect damage this summer since they just got their little butts kicked by -20 temps.  Let's all keep our fingers crossed that the tick population takes a dive as well as some scale insects and our old nemesis, bagworm. 

Be kind to your plants this spring.  Fertilize them, prune them, and tell them that they just made it through the winter of '13-14.  So did we....Whew!

Off to hug my beautiful river birches (no ice or snow damage, thank goodness!)  -  Jodie


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