03 November 2010

Now I Lay Thee Down to Sleep

Photo courtesy of Growquest.com
"Hot Cocoa" Floribunda Rose
It's that time of year here in Edmonton.  The time when gardeners do their last preparations in the garden before winter.  This often involves mulching tender perennials and roses, installing burlap screens around cedars and hydrangeas, raking of leaves and general clean up of garden beds.

If you have hardy roses, ie. Morden series of roses or shrub roses, very little must be done to winterize them.  Water in well, if very tall cut back by 1/3, and mulch if desired.  Tea roses, on the other hand, require more attention to prepare them for old man winter.

How do I overwinter tender roses?  The following advice is provided by Jim Hole of Hole's Greenhouses in St. Albert:

"In our area, tender roses need protection to successfully overwinter. Ideally,
cut them down (to 25–30 cm) and mulch at the same time. This should be
done when the ground is frozen but before it snows, which is usually in late
October. However, given how unpredictable the weather can be, it’s often more
convenient to cut back the roses earlier (about mid October) and then mulch
when the ground freezes. In either case, make sure the roses are well watered
before the ground freezes. Use at least 30 cm of peat moss, and top with soil
to prevent the peat from blowing away (you can also wet the top of the peat
to freeze it in place). During the winter, shovel snow on top of your mulch for
added insulation."

Be sure when screening your cedars and dwarf Alberta spruce that your screen of burlap does not touch your tree.  Rather, it should be a few inches away from the foliage and tall enough to act as a sunscreen against the strong January through March sun.  This also forms a shield against drying winter winds.  It is also advisable to spray the entire evergreen with an anti-dessicant spray such as WiltPruf to the point of runoff.  This spray helps retain the moisure in the needles, thus adding protection against wind and sunscald.  Remember to water before the ground freezes.  Here in Edmonton it is sometimes necessary to water trees, shrubs and evergreens during the winter should we have a dry spell.  We had one winter a few years ago with minimal snowfall and bare ground in January and February.  It was necessary at that point to water to prevent stress to the trees.  The ground wasn't frozen solid, thus moisture was soaked in.  When the ground froze, a block of ice acted as protection against upheaval in the spring thaw/freeze and, as it melted, provided necessary moisture for the plants.


Karen said...

Excellent advice, and chores I am attending to a little each day. I have heard of WiltPruf before and will try this on my dwarf Alberta spruces. Thank you for the information!

Terra said...

I found this fascinating about protecting plants for the winter. I garden in California, so what you write here is new to me. The Hot Cocoa rose is the next rose I want to buy.

Arija said...

Not only in cold climates is it advisable to water in winter.
We have had dry autumn/winter/springs with frost that draws out the soil moisture as it freezes and then evaporates it as the sun rises and thaws it again. Thus drying out the soil to a considerable depth. Mulch is a great help in such situations.

Rambling Woods said...

I wasn't aware of most of this. The ground isn't frozen yet here near Buffalo so I haven't done anything with the found rose bush or the hydrangeas yet....seems kind of complicated....Michelle


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