Most Frequently Asked Questions: Winter
the branches of Forsythia, Spirea, Spicebush, Quince, Pussywillow and other
early blooming trees and shrubs for forcing indoors. If you can keep them
in a cool place and change the water at least once a week they will last
longer and you will be rewarded with beautiful blooms for a few weeks.
Try spacing your cuttings at two-week intervals so you will achieve a continual
succession of flowering, thereby extending the indoor display well into
||What are some trees and shrubs suitable for forcing
indoors in the winter?
indoor plants in an area where they receive the maximum amount of light,
but in some cases direct sun may be harmful. Some protection, such as a
thin curtain, or special sunshades, may be necessary. Turn your houseplants
regularly to keep them from becoming lopsided, and gently pinch them to
keep them shapely. Group plants together to increase the humidity level
during the dry winter months. Potted plants can be placed on a shallow
tray filled with pebbles that are kept moist to increase humidity. Although
it is very helpful to increase the humidity, do not overwater. Most plants
want to dry out and then be watered thoroughly. Be sure to have adequate
drainage such as perlite or sand in the potting soil mix.
||What are your suggestions for keeping houseplants
healthy during the winter?
reduce the effect of alternate heaving and thawing, apply a winter mulch
after the soil freezes. When mulch is applied to a frozen soil it will
keep the soil consistently cold. Mulch will also help to retain soil moisture.
The mulch layer should be 2-21/2 inches thick and can be composed of leaf
compost, straw or other material.
||Do I need to apply a winter mulch to my landscape
plants, both narrow and broadleaf, continue to lose moisture through their
leaves in winter. If the soil is frozen, ground moisture is not available
to plant roots and therefore they cannot absorb what is lost through the
leaves. The foliage becomes dry and brown, and may drop. Applying anti-desiccant
coats the leaves and reduces transpiration. Usually, two applications per
season are necessary for protection, one in December and the other in February.
Wrapping evergreens with burlap or canvas is also helpful to reduce desiccation
from sun and wind. Leave the top of the wrapping open to allow sunlight
||What are the reasons for using an anti-desiccant
in the winter?
during a period of extended snow cover, when their usual food sources are
blanketed and therefore unavailable, these creatures seek out alternatives
such as bark of trees and shrubs. When partial girdling occurs, insects
and pathogens can gain easy access and weaken plants. If trunks and stems
become completely girdled, the plants will die. In order to prevent this
kind of injury, wrap the trunks and stems of susceptible plants with plastic
covers or hardware cloths. Alternatively, rodent repellents can be sprayed
onto the trunks and stems. Be sure to reapply in midwinter, during a time
of warm temperatures.
||Why do mice and rabbits cause damage to landscape
plants in winter and how can this be prevented?
ensure their freshness, beauty and safety through the season, take appropriate
steps in selection, conditioning and care of evergreen boughs. Wash branches
thoroughly in warm water to remove dust and dirt, then rinse them in cold
water. Remove any defective foliage and split the stems about 2-3" up from
the ends to facilitate water uptake. Place the material in warm water and
store in cool temperatures for at least eight hours prior to use. Keep
the water level high by replacing any water that has evaporated from the
container. All evergreen material will last longer if conditioned prior
Pines and Firs stand up best indoors while certain species like hemlock
and spruce are notorious for dropping their needles. For the best needle
retention, choose Abies balsamea- Balsam Fir, A. fraseri-
Fraser Fir, A. procera- Noble Fir, A. concolor- White Fir,
menziesii- Douglas Fir (not a true fir), Pinus sylvestris- Scotch
Pine, P. strobus- White Pine.
Remember to cut off the invasive vine Celastrus orbiculatus- Oriental
Bittersweet that grows up and girdles trees. Take as much as you want as
Bittersweet’s orange and red fruit adds an attractive touch to wreaths
||I would like to make my own holiday wreaths
and sprays this year. What plants are best suited for this purpose and
how do I condition them to last?
the first hard frost, cut back the blackened stems and gently lift the
clump of roots with a spading fork. To prepare them for winter storage,
label each clump with the variety name and stand the clumps upside down
to drain away any moisture. After about a week of drying place them in
a deep box and cover the clumps with slightly damp peat moss or wrap them
in newspaper before storing. They are best stored in a place where the
temperature is between 35-50 degrees. Be sure to examine the tubers for
any rotting during the winter and remove decaying portions immediately.
||What is the best way to store tender bulbs
such as dahlia over the winter?
is best to discard old garden products, especially those that contain chemicals.
Keep current by checking with your local cooperative extension service
on the new and approved kinds of pesticides and herbicides for your particular
||I have always wondered what to do with all
of the garden sprays, powders, fertilizers, etc. that have accumulated.
Can I keep them around to use the next season?
leaves of smooth, large leaved plants such as Philodendron, Ficus, Dracaena
with a soft, damp cloth to gently wash off any accumulation of dust and
grime during the winter months. For smaller leaved plants, occasional misting
with water will cleanse the leaves. You can also use a clean feather duster
for this purpose.
||I have noticed quite a lot of dust on my houseplants.
What is the best way to clean them?