Monday, November 24, 2008

One More Chore for Fall

I am sure you are all getting ready for Thanksgiving and then Christmas and you probably aren't thinking about the garden. So if you need an excuse to avoid the mall this weekend, here it is. Broadleaf evergreens and evergreens don't go dormant during the winter like deciduous trees and shrubs do. To keep them from drying out over the winter you should water them whenever the temperatures go above freezing. You can also apply an anti-transpirant which will keep them from losing moisture through their leaves. This is especially important with broad leaf evergreens, such as boxwood, holly, azaleas and rhododendrons. Do your azaleas and rhododendrons not bloom in the spring? This could be the reason. These shrubs set their blooms in the fall (I've actually had a PJM rhody bloom in November when we've had a warm up) and if they get stressed over the winter from drying out they will jettison the blooms in an effort to save themselves. You can see the difference it makes in looking at the pictures on the right. These are from the Wilt Pruf web site and are quite dramatic.

So what is an anti-transpirant? It is a polymer layer that is sprayed on the plant leaves, or needles in the case of spruce or arbor vitae, that keeps the plant from drying out. There are several brands available, including Wilt Pruf and Wilt Stop from Bonide. The Wilt Pruf lays down multiple layers of polymer and seems to last longer. You should apply it in late fall, Thanksgiving is a good reminder, whenever the temperature is above 40 degrees.

This is a great product to use in the spring and summer when you are transplanting shrubs, as it helps the plants retain moisture. You can also use it with your fresh Christmas trees, wreaths and roping and on your winter containers.

No comments: