First Frost/Freeze of Season Due this Weekend in D.C. Area

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Right on time, the first frost/freeze of the season is due this weekend, here in the Magical Mid-Atlantic, specifically Friday night.

With the turning of the seasons comes a list of things to do to put your garden to bed for the winter season so it can rest:

  • Without delay, bring your tender houseplants and tropicals inside. Check for insects and spray accordingly, if you believe in spraying. Once inside, I give them as much light as possible and only water enough to keep them alive. I could care less if they grow over the winter…the only reason I have them inside is to decorate the rooms and keep them alive until I can put them out again the following April. By then, they are beyond ready to go back outside.
  • ***Continue watering, as needed, until you put the hoses away for the winter. Fall can be sunny with very low humidity, and very dry. Please be sure to lay the hose down at the base of the plant—water on a slow trickle—and allow the water to seep in slowly. Larger plants have big, deep rootballs and the water must get into the ground deeply so the plants don’t die. DO NOT depend solely on irrigation systems during the first couple of years—monitor your plants for water. Remember that newly-planted items do not have the means to absorb water from surrounding soil, until they root. The bigger the new plant/transplant, the more water it’s going to need. I cannot stress this enough.
  • Once the hard freezes arrive regularly, be sure to turn off your outdoor spigots from the inside and store your hoses for the winter, out of the harsh weather.
  • Check the batteries in your smoke alarms (the twice yearly time changes are good seasonal reminders). And check your dryer vents, too. You’d be surprised how many people forget to check their dryer vents—they can get clogged and become a very big fire hazard. There are companies out there to clean the vents for you, if you are not into doing it yourself. And don’t forget to clean out your gutters, too.

Woodland.Cottage.Fall.2014.11.12.14 2014-11-12 001

Other Fall Gardening Notes:

  • It’s a great time to plant new plants and to transplant shrubs that might be in the wrong place. They will spend the winter rooting while the tops of the plants go dormant, and they will be ready to grow in the spring. I think that fall planting is the best-kept secret in the gardening world. There are exceptions: certain plants don’t establish themselves in the fall, for whatever strange reason; and things that are marginally hardy—at the northern limit of their hardiness range where you live–should not be planted in the fall because they might not have time to root well before the cold weather sets in. They have a better chance of surviving the first couple of winters if they are well-rooted.
  • I don’t like to fertilize shrubs in the fall—especially broadleaf evergreens–because it promotes new growth during the remaining warm days of fall—only to be frozen off when the hard freezes come in. It’s best to let your plants go dormant naturally so they can withstand the winter cold more easily, especially if the winter turns out to be severe. It’s a great time to fertilize deciduous (leaf-losing) trees, however, as they go dormant.
  • No major pruning should occur now; new growth should not be promoted due to the coming hard freezes. Plants should be allowed to go dormant. Minor trimming and shaping are fine; just no major pruning unless you absolutely have to do it. A great time to trim evergreens is during the holidays, when you might want to bring in some greens to decorate.
  • Get the weeds out now! They are all setting seeds and those seeds mean many more weeds next year. Save some time, in advance, by weeding now when the weather is nice.
  • Seasonal color—pansies, etc.,—can still go in now. Pansies should make it until spring and should revive after any winter dormancy.

Woodland.Cottage.Fall.2014.11.12.14 2014-11-12 011

  • Bulbs—this is the time to plant, now until the ground freezes hard. Remember to buy the best quality tulips and hyacinths you can afford…they decline after a few years in our hot, summer soil. Think of tulips as a present to yourself and buy them fresh every year to get the best show. If you love tulips, it’s worth the money. And remember: deer love tulips, but won’t touch daffodils.

Let me know if I can help you with anything this fall. We are winding down our planting season soon, except deciduous and evergreen (not broadleaf) trees. Maintenance, clean-ups, stone work, fencing, lighting, etc., can continue until the weather shuts down the work.

Happy Fall and I’ll have more in my Holiday Newsletter right before Thanksgiving. Hope all of you are well and happy.

All the best,

Jeff

Posted under Garden maintenance, Houseplants, The Fall Garden, Tropical Plants, Weather vagaries

HARD FREEZE EXPECTED SATURDAY NIGHT

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Dear Friends in the D.C. area,

I know this is getting old! Here we go again: Freeze Warning for Saturday night, April 9th. This Saturday night’s freeze could be the coldest of the recent late freezes. If it gets into the 20s, we could have widespread damage.

In my own garden, there was some damage from the 31F or 32F we got the other night. I had damage on the new growth of Daphniphyllum, Hydrangea, Bush Ivy, Ligustrum, and the blooms on my Loropetalums.

In my own garden, I am particularly concerned about Japanese Maples (new leaves), Hydrangeas (new leaves), Boxwoods (new growth), Azaleas (coming into bloom), Loropetalums (flowers), Ligustrum (new growth), and Clematis (new growth and flower buds). Some perennials could be burned, as well. To the degree that I can cover these plants (some of my plants are just too big to cover), I am going to do so. Saturday night, my yard will be draped with sheets, blankets, tarps…whatever I can find to cover my vulnerable plants.

You may want to protect your Roses, as well.

To reiterate:

  • Tender annuals, vegetables, etc. The average last frost date for the D.C. metro area is April 25th (earlier to the south and east of the city, later to the north and west), yet some impatient gardeners have undoubtedly gotten too early a start. If you are one of them, be sure to cover your frost-tender annuals, vegetables, etc., to protect them from the frost. If you have pots planted with tender plants or haven’t planted your tender plants yet, and you can bring them inside, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to do so Saturday night.
  • If you’ve put your houseplants outside on the porch or patio already, bring them in and leave them inside until all danger of frost has passed.
  • Tender buds, flowers and foliage. Tender foliage on hydrangeas, Japanese maples, and the more tender perennials may be especially vulnerable, as might azalea and camellia flowers coming into blossom or buds showing color, and very tender new growth on evergreen and deciduous shrubs. Many early-flowering shrubs, bulbs and perennials can take a little cold, however. If you are worried and want to protect any plants, you can cover these items with frost cloths, tarps, sheets or light blankets to help protect the flowers from frost. Be sure to remove them during the day, so the plants beneath them don’t overheat.

Let us all think good thoughts and hope the temperatures moderate Saturday night!!

Here’s hoping this will be the last time I need to send a frost/freeze message this Spring, yet I will keep you posted if more cold weather comes our way.

Posted under Spring Flowers, Weather vagaries

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on April 8, 2016

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FREEZE WARNING Tonight for the D.C. Area

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Take photos of your favorite plant combinations, before the frost, so you can repeat them next year. Here, we have variegated spider plants, purple heart, and sprengeri asparagus fern, all tender to frosts and freezes.

Right on time, the first freeze of the season is due in the D.C. area tonight. Not all areas will see a freeze (or even a frost), but it’s time to prepare, just the same.

With the turning of the seasons comes a list of things to do to put your garden to bed for the Winter season, so it can rest:

Without delay, bring inside your tender houseplants and tropical plants. Check for insects and spray accordingly, if you believe in spraying. Once inside, I give them as much light as possible and only water enough to keep them alive. I could care less if they grow over the Winter…the only reason I have them inside is to decorate the rooms and keep them alive until I can put them out again the following April. By then, they are beyond ready to go back outside.
• ***Continue watering, as needed, until you put the hoses away for the Winter. Fall can be sunny with very low humidity, and very dry. This year, I’ve found that many of the large trees we installed suffered because of the lack of deep watering during this Summer’s drought. Please be sure to lay the hose down at the base of the trunk—water on a slow trickle—and allow the water to seep in slowly. These large trees have big, deep rootballs and the water must get into the ground deeply so the trees don’t die. DO NOT depend solely on irrigation systems during the first couple of years—monitor your plants for water. Remember that newly-planted items do not have the means to absorb surrounding water until they root. The bigger the new plant/transplant, the more water it’s going to need. I cannot stress this enough.
Once the regular hard freezes arrive, be sure to turn off your outdoor spigots from the inside and store your hoses for the Winter, out of the harsh weather.
When the time changes, change the batteries in your smoke alarms (the twice yearly time changes are good seasonal reminders). And check your dryer vents, too. You’d be surprised how many people forget to check their dryer vents—they can get clogged and become a great fire hazard. There are companies out there to clean the vents for you, if you are not into doing it yourself.

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Time to bring in your houseplants for the Winter!

Other Fall gardening notes:
It’s a great time to plant new plants and to transplant shrubs that might be in the wrong place. They will spend the Winter rooting while the tops of the plants go dormant, and they will be ready to grow in the Spring. I think that Fall planting is the best-kept secret in the gardening world. There are exceptions: certain plants don’t establish themselves in the Fall, for whatever strange reason; and things that are marginally hardy—at the northern limit of their hardiness range where you live–should not be planted in the Fall because they might not have time to root well before the cold weather sets in. They have a better chance of surviving the first couple of Winters if they are well-rooted.
I don’t like to fertilize shrubs in the Fall—especially broadleaf evergreens–because it promotes new growth on the remaining warm days of Fall—only to be frozen off when the hard freezes come in. It’s best to let your plants go dormant naturally so they can withstand the Winter cold more easily, especially if the Winter turns out to be severe. It’s a great time to fertilize deciduous (leaf-losing) trees, however, as they go dormant.
No major pruning should occur now; new growth should not be promoted due to the coming hard freezes. Plants should be allowed to go dormant. Minor trimming and shaping are fine; just no major pruning unless you absolutely have to do it. A great time to prune evergreens is during the holidays, when you might want to bring in some greens to decorate.
Get the weeds out now! They are all setting seeds and those seeds mean many more weeds next year. Save some time, in advance, by weeding now when the weather is nice.
Seasonal color—pansies, mums, ornamental cabbage and kale—these and other seasonal plantings can go in now. Pansies should make it until Spring and should revive after any Winter dormancy; ornamental cabbage and kale often get fried in the first bad freeze; and you decide on the mums…they are perennial and could possibly come back and bloom next year, depending on the variety. Most people replant them every year, though.

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Pansies survive most Winters in our area and provide much-welcome color.

Bulbs—this is the time to plant. Daffodils, narcissus and most other bulbs can go in now until the ground freezes hard. Wait on tulips and hyacinths until at least November. The soil is too hot until then to plant these two. And remember to buy the best quality tulips and hyacinths you can afford…they decline after a few years in our hot, Summer soil. Think of tulips as a present to yourself and buy them fresh every year to get the best show. If you love tulips, it’s worth the money. And remember: deer love tulips, but won’t touch daffodils.

Good luck with your preparations for the cold weather to come!

Posted under Container Gardens, Garden maintenance, Houseplants, Pruning, The Fall Garden, Weather vagaries

First Frost/Freeze of the Season Due this Weekend in the Magical Mid-Atlantic

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Right on time, the first frost/freeze of the season is due this weekend, here in the Magical Mid-Atlantic.

Most of you have brought in the houseplants; if not, it’s time to wrap it up. Bring in those tender things: any tropical plants (such as your Summering houseplants), or any tender plants you might want to save that would be susceptible to the effects of a frost/freeze. I just finished getting everything in the door a couple days ago.

Soon: turn off your outdoor spigots for the season; put hoses away when you get the chance. Change the batteries in your smoke alarms (the twice yearly time changes are good seasonal reminders). And check your dryer vents, too. You’d be surprised how many people forget to check their dryer vents—they can get clogged and become a serious fire hazard. There are companies out there to clean the vents for you, if you are not into doing it yourself.

Happy Fall and I’ll have more in my Holiday Newsletter in late November. Hope all of you are well and happy.

__________

Photo by the blogger. If you copy, please link back.

Posted under Houseplants, The Fall Garden, Tropical Plants

Freeze Warning Tonight (4/15/14) and Maybe Wednesday Night, Too

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I was hoping I wouldn’t have to write this…there is a Freeze Warning posted for tonight, Tuesday, April 15, in the D.C. metro area. Be ready for Wednesday night, too, just in case. This is not uncommon at this time of year when we are teetering between warmth one day and cold the next. The recent warmth brought out new growth on most plants.  

In my own garden, I have Azaleas starting to bloom and the Japanese Maples have leafed-out; I’ll cover what I can. I am not going to worry about the Daffodils and other bulbs, Pansies, Hellebores, Pieris, Camellias, for example—these should go relatively undamaged, other than maybe a few burnt flowers.

Anytime the night temperatures are expected to hover around freezing at this time of year, I consider covering. My goal is to keep frost off the flowers and new growth of tender items. I always keep a stack of old sheets, towels, and blankets for nights just like these when I need to cover plants. Just drape them gently over the plants you are trying to protect. Beware using plastic bags and tarps—they do a good job of protecting your plants, but the air underneath them can heat up too much the next morning when the sun hits the plastic. If you do decide to use plastic covers, be sure to remove them in the morning when the temperature warms a bit. Special frost coverings and blankets are available at some nurseries and hardware stores.

If you have planted tender annuals or vegetables prematurely, cover them. Bring indoors any tropical houseplants you may have set outside when it was warm. The average last date of frost in the D.C. area is April 25th—often earlier to the South and East, often later to the West and North. May 1 is a good marker for planting your tender annuals and vegetables and putting out your tropical plants for the summer. It pays to wait until then.  Still, keep those sheets, towels and blankets on hand for an unexpected cold snap.

Posted under Southern Gardens, Spring Flowers, The Spring Garden, Weather vagaries

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on April 15, 2014

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