Tag Archives: pruning

Pruning in the Winter??? Sure-Why Not!!

Mulched garden bedIt’s that time of the year for me, I get itchy to get outside. The holidays have long since passed, and we have settled into the Winter doldrums. About this time, I want to get out and get my hands dirty!  I start some seeds indoors- though I learned my lesson- there really is NO reason for me to start 280 tomato plants inside in late February-

According to the US Department of Agriculture’s hardiness zone map, we are Zone 6-A, and I always thought we were 7- see, we can learn something new every day! Though nothing is perfect, there are  pros and cons to this map- such as-that it does a fine job of delineating the garden climates of the eastern half of North America. That area is comparatively flat, so mapping is mostly a matter of drawing lines approximately parallel to the Gulf Coast every 120 miles or so as you move north. The lines tilt northeast as they approach the Eastern Seaboard. They also demarcate the special climates formed by the Great Lakes and by the Appalachian mountain ranges.-which is a good thing. With a pro there is usually a con, and here it is- In the eastern half of the country, the USDA map doesn’t account for the beneficial effect of a snow cover over perennial plants, the regularity or absence of freeze-thaw cycles, or soil drainage during cold periods. And in the rest of the country (west of the 100th meridian, which runs roughly through the middle of North and South Dakota and down through Texas west of Laredo), the USDA map fails. So as with anything, you have to use your best judgement.

Here are a few things that you can do to start getting things ready for Spring!

Get your tools ready! Clean them up-wash them with a light abrasive sponge and get all the remaining dirt off of them, dry them and lightly oil them up. Sharpen any cutting tools that you have so that cuts are clean and easy.  (of course, you did this already this Fall when you put them away)

Prune trees and shrubs, both ornamentals and fruit

Check flower beds for plants that may have heaved

Fluff up the mulch in your beds, and if you have some on hand, replace as needed

Check outside plants and trees for animal damage

Cut some branches for forcing indoors-I like Forsythia- to me that says that Spring can’t be far away

Rejuvenate holly bushes with a hard pruning

Cut back your ornamental grasses-I find that tying them makes it easier

Check evergreens for sign of desiccation (drying out) – hope you had us come out and spray them with an Anti-desiccant this past Fall-

Start seeds of cool season vegetables and flowers

This is also a good time to check your houseplants for any pests and finish up your catalog seed and plant orders-I say- get out there and get those hands dirty!!

If you have any questions or comments, we welcome you to post them in the comment box below-


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Winter Rose Care

red roseDo you have questions about how best to protect your roses for the Winter? We suggest a few basic, easy to follow steps to help yours make it through the tough Winter months.

  1. Water well. A well hydrated plant can survive winter better than one that is dry and stressed.
  2.  Put a couple of shovelfulls of compost over the crown of the rose plant.
  3. Give your rose some non-nitrogen fertilizer. Late fall, after a hard freeze, is a good time to give your rose a dose of Epsom salts (about 1/2 cup per plant), along with rock phosphate (don’t use bonemeal — it attracts rodents) and maybe a little potash. These fertilizers won’t promote new growth on the canes, which can be hurt by frosts and winter. Instead, they will help promote root growth, which can continue well into December if the ground is mulched. And, they’ll have a chance to work into the soil through freeze/thaw actions and be ready for your plants to use in the spring.Composted rose at crown
We suggest that you trim them in the Fall, so that the wind doesn’t cause them to rock, which can be detrimental to the health of your plant. When they are dormant, in the late Winter/early Spring hard prune your roses. Roses are shrubs that benefit from a hard pruning.  The pruning causes the plants to sprout new, healthy growth. Many roses only bloom on new wood, hybrid teas included. For luscious flowers during the summer, make some time for pruning rose bushes. After all, it seems that many of us are happiest when we are working in our gardens, so why not incorporate some Winter gardening as well.
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Your Fall Garden-Part two

GrassesReady to head out into the garden?  A pair of sharp hedge shears will make your work go quickly. Keep pruners handy for the tougher stems.  Cut perennials back one to two inches above the ground, so you can still see where they are.  Pull out spent annuals. This is a great time to get the weeds out- doing this chore now can save a lot of headaches in the spring. Top dress your beds with a layer of compost or chopped leaves (I like to run them over with the lawnmower), being careful not to cover the crowns of the plants.


If you have a lot of Hostas and you don’t mind waiting for frost, they will turn to mush and can be easily raked up. Ornamental grasses can be cut back in late fall or, if you like the way they look in winter- left up until spring. Tie them up before you cut them to make cleanup easy. Cut grasses 12 to 18 inches high.

Some plants with attractive seedheads- Black Eyed Susans or Coneflowers, for example, can be left up for winter interest, and to provide food for the birds.

Questions or comments are always encouraged!

Cindy Hollett, MCH


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