I am beginning to worry a lot more about how many of our outdoor plants are going to suffer damage due to the crazy weather that we have been having so far this winter.
The vast majority of the trees and shrubs that we plant in this area go dormant once the weather begins to cool down in the late fall. By the late fall, the trees and shrubs have taken up a lot of water and stored that water in the branches, twigs, flower buds and — in some cases — the leaves.
As the ground freezes, the plants no longer have the ability to take up water to replace the water that is pulled from the plants by the dry winter winds. The dry wind is one factor that can lead to plant damage. On the other hand, warm air temperatures and sunny days can cause the plants to lose moisture, too.
I think in the present situation that we have had this winter, the ground has not really frozen in the root zone of most plants. On the other hand, I don’t think that we have had enough rain or melted snow to have it sink down to where the roots are in the soil.
What all this means is that the plants in our yards can easily be stressed by lack of lost moisture and the ability to take up moisture.
For the most part, our outdoor plants would appear to lose the most moisture in February and March. The reason for this is the gradual warmup of the air and the increase in intensity of the sun. If you add in the previous months of dry winter winds, by the end of March, the plants need the thawing of the ground to allow them to begin to take up much needed moisture.
The weather that we have had so far this winter has made it really hard on the plants, and they have had to use up a lot of their reserve of stored moisture. Hopefully, this does not lead to any late-season conditions that cause damage or death to our outdoor plants. As the saying goes, only time will tell.
As the days begin to get longer and the sun gets higher in the sky, our houseplants will eventually begin to start to grow again. In many cases, this won’t start until some time in March.
As the plants begin to put out new top growth, they will also begin to put out additional root growth to support that new top growth. This additional root growth can fill the soil with enough roots that the roots fill the soil ball and make it harder, if not impossible, to hold any moisture in the soil.
Now would be a good time to repot your houseplants into larger pots. The rule of thumb is that you move the existing pot into a pot that is one size larger. If you have a plant that is in a 4-inch pot, you would move it into a 5-inch pot. Once you get to a pot that is 10 inches or larger, you would go to a pot that would be 2 inches larger.
You want to be sure to use a good-quality potting soil when you repot your plants. This will allow for the proper growth of the roots and better water retention without the soil being excessively wet all the time.
Now you have something related to gardening that you can do inside the house!
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.
Tim Lamprey has worked in the lawn and garden industry for 45 years.