Dear Late-Season Snow... MAKE WAY for GREEN!
Even though winter has had its late snows, we have started our landscaping season! Our full staff is back and we are all working away. And even though we are celebrating the coming of green, don’t worry about your plants if it snows again! The snow is like insulation and protects the tender foliage from cold damage. But yes, we’re excited about planting time and things greening up—but remember to wait to plant perennials and annual flowers until AFTER Mother’s Day. (Some stores will be selling flowers in April to make money, but that does not mean the plants are ready for your yard!).
With the up and down temperatures lately, we often see bud damage. For example, all boxwood at my house are budding and flowering (yes boxwood flower—extremely tiny). If the temperature gets too cold, the buds will not open or ones that have will often die. So, the cold can cause a burnt look to the plant. Plants grow so quickly in Spring that they rapidly grow out of the “ugly” look. Where we can see major damage, is the May frosts or cold spells, when the extremely tender plants have all started to emerge, grow, and are not ready to handle frost (i.e. Hosta, Ferns, Bleeding hearts, and many others).
The end of March also leads to my yearly note about mulching. Many landscapers start mulching in March due to a volume of projects and timing (basically to get it all done in the spring). Horticulturally though, June is best to mulch—once the ground has warmed up to the point to sustain seasonal growth. Mulching cold soil only insulates the ground to stay cold longer, delaying plant growth. Also, perennials have not emerged yet, so it can be very easy to bury (and often smoother) tender plants. I have seen numerous commercial sites where Black-Eyed Susan, Coreopsis, Yarrow, Sedum, and Salvia have been killed by mulching. Remember 2-3 inches thick is PLENTY, and that includes the existing, old mulch.
We have completed almost all our winter and spring pruning, but it is still a wonderful time to get out and prune. Pruning prior to buds breaking (new growth), while the plants are dormant, is a lot less stressful for the plants. When pruning prior to bud extension, you have saved the plant all the energy to grow and feed the removed section. Our staff members are all expert pruners with the proper technique and would be happy to explain and consult as needed. We see more bad pruning than good pruning, so please do not imitate the “professional” on the corner. Knowing the plant and its characteristics is the first step to pruning, then when does it flower, how does it rejuvenate and re-grow, and how aggressively does that plant grow? A pruner must know about the plant he or she is working on.
Oh- and I have to mention, Molly turned 50! We just had a great birthday party here. The crew deluged her with flowers—she enjoyed being queen for the day! (which might really be everyday. ;)
See you out in the greening landscape!
Call us for other ideas and/or to discuss green practices for your landscape!