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Page added on October 28, 2013

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WHAT TO DO FOR OCTOBER?

There are several opinion on winterizing your plants.  One I call clear cut, meaning clean off everything.  Stocks, are cut off down to soil level with just about an inch remaining above ground level.  If we have a winter with minimal snow for cover the top soil soon dries out and any plants with shallow root system (2-3 inches) will winter kill.
Mulching with leaves, grass, straw or hay works if applied after the ground is frozen, but must be removed with the spring melt due to some perennials being susceptible to spring wet conditions.  Alpine perennials that are evergreen (remain green all year long) are intolerant of mulch protection and are best just covered with snow.
My method is for tall perennials after freeze down I tramp them down, leaving stocks attached to the root system.  This traps show which is the added cover needed.  For mid size perennials, 1 to 3 ft., I also tramp down and add leaf mulch and snow.  The low growing alpines, I just dump extra snow on top.  Avoid using snow that is contarminated with salt from the driveway.  Salt will wipe out your plants and grass.
Any perennials I have growing in planters, I pop out the plant ouf of the pot and plant it in the garden bed.  Make certain that you’ve packed the soil in around the roots to avoid any air pockets.  Stake and tag each plant so your in the spring what is where.  If the planter is large it’s not necessary to move the plant out, just dump as much snow as possible to keep frozen.  I’ve even moved such planters into an unheated buildings, kept the container soil moist and covered.
Because of rust spores being a common problem with Hollyhocks, I clean that area of all leaves, stocks, flower buds and seed buds and dump everything in the garbage.  Hollyhocks have a long deep top root so winter kill is not an issue but I do dump snow on that area to protect other plants like Gallardia which also tolerates drought.
Rabbits are a problem with the rock gardens.  Put chickenwire over areas that they hang also blood meal works but has to be applied after every snowfall.  If you have fruit trees, wrap the base with a heavy sprial plastic to prevent mice from damaging the bark.  Water in your shrubs and trees well, especially juniper, cedar and dwarf pine.  With roses, I dump snow on them and prune it back in the spring.  I also spread bloodmeal around my clematis and dump as much snow on them as possible.
I hope I’ve covered everything you need to do this October.  The most important thing is to prevent your plants from drying out.
Happy Gardening!
Henry W. Kriaski








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