Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Caring for Plants During the Cold Months

It’s cold!!

Quite quickly we went from mild fall temperatures to snow as low as Loomis! My roses are still blooming and have many new buds on them. But, the time has come to make adjustments to the irrigation clock and to cutback the roses.

What I have noticed is that once an irrigation timer is installed on a job site, there is a belief that the client will no longer have to worry about water issues... though this is not the case. In Sacramento our temperatures range from extreme highs to lows. Having 20 degrees days in early December and then reaching 112 degrees in the summer, it’s important to regulate landscape water.

When I know that we will be getting rain, I turn my irrigation system off. If it’s cold but not raining, I keep the water on a regular schedule - even if it’s just for 5 minutes a day. This is especially important when we get freezing temperatures. The plants MUST have water during a frost, or else they will die. The water keeps the roots supple and prevents them from drying out. It may take a sticky note on the door to remind you to adjust your clock, do whatever you need. It’s a terrible waste of water to have the irrigation system running during the rain!

Speaking of plant care during freezing temperatures: There are a few plants that will need protecting during heavy frosts. Most of our citrus here in Sacramento will do fine, although if the temperatures stay at freezing during the day, for many days at a time, I would recommend putting sheets over the trees and some plants. Do not use plastic! Water collects on the plastic and freezes. Use sheets or purchase special landscape cloth that is made specifically for frost, sold at nursery centers. Bird of Paradise, Banana trees and Cannas (which will turn brown and look dead in the winter with severe cold - it can be cut to the ground, and in the spring it will be back) will need either covering or little christmas lights woven around them. I find the christmas lights are easier (and it sort of fits for the time of year). I normally do not have Bougainvillea as part of my plant palette, but if you have it, wind christmas lights through it and cover it with a sheet to keep it warm. I have a Brugmansia (Angel Trumpet) that I love, and I currently have christmas lights around it and it’s is doing fine.

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