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Cannon: Steps to keep plants warm, healthy in winter

POSTED: January 29, 2009 6:22 p.m.

Wintertime can be tough on your plants, inside and out. What can one do to prevent injury to more fragile plants during the winter months?

Cold injury to most landscape plants is not a major concern. Most plants in your yard are very hardy.

Deciduous trees and shrubs laugh at cold weather. They have methods of protecting themselves, buds, stems and all against the worst Arctic blasts.

But some plants are known to be less cold hardy. Some of these include gardenias, aucuba and lantana. Once that thermometer dips below 15 degrees, protect them. Also, any plants that were installed less than a year ago could be more susceptible to cold.

The best way to protect them is to cover the plant with plastic, anchoring it to the ground on all sides. I suggest using a roll of black sheet plastic, wooden stakes taller than the shrub and bricks or logs for anchoring. A lightweight tarp or even a sheet also will work.

Drive the stakes on three sides of the plant, drape the plastic over the plant and use the bricks to seal the plastic to the ground around the plant. Black plastic is better than clear plastic, but regardless of what type of cover you use, do not leave the covering on for more than three days.

Wintertime can also be tough on houseplants. Most problems with houseplants during the cold months have to do with light, water, humidity and fertilization.

Winter’s shorter days don’t help with the lighting requirements of most indoor plants. Move them to the south facing windows, where daylight is most intense.

Too little light can produce yellowing of the leaves. Too little heat can cause leaves to curl up, turn brown and drop off.

Make sure you do not overwater, which can lead to rotted roots or blackened leaves. Underwatering results in crisp leaves that eventually wilt and drop off. Most houseplants do not need fertilizer during the winter months.

Finally, group your houseplants. This raises the humidity around them. Mist them or use a humidifier.
Follow these tips, and your plants can survive the winter months.

Wanda Cannon is a Master Gardener trained through the Hall County program and also serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the Hall County Extension office. Phone: 770-535-8293.



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