All About Gardening and Gardening Q & A by Pernell Gerver

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"How to Protect Plants from Winterkill in Western Massachusetts"

Protecting your garden now for winter is one of the most important tasks you can do for all of your outdoor plants. Just about every area of the garden and home landscape will benefit from winter protection including trees, shrubs, roses, and perennials. Without winter protection, some plants will suffer damage, die back, or even be winterkilled totally. Here in western Massachusetts doing yearly winter protection each fall is a must. Recent winters have been especially hard on all sorts of plants including ones that have never had problems in this area.

Every spring I see and hear about the usual dead, winterkilled suspects like rhododendron, azalea, boxwood, hybrid tea roses, and other marginally-hardy plants, especially if they weren’t given any winter protection the previous fall, but what has surprised me most in recent years is the large numbers of plants that are considered hardy in this area that have had problems. Trees and shrubs like rose of Sharon, holly, redbud, weeping cherry, dogwood, mountain laurel, forsythia, burning bush, juniper, cotoneaster, euonymus, arborvitae, and red-twig dogwood surprisingly were killed or damaged. Also, a large number of different perennials that have never had problems before were winterkilled.

Landscape plantings represent a large investment of time and money and as a gardener there is no more sad an experience than to go outside on a spring day to discover a cherished plant that was killed over winter.

Based on how the past couple of winters have been, it’s now more important than ever to provide winter protection to make sure that the plants make it through this winter. It’s especially necessary for any plants that suffered damage last winter.

The good news is winter damage and winterkill can be prevented and now is the time to do something about it to prevent it. With the way recent winters have been, I’m strongly recommending all outdoor plants be given their appropriate method of winter protection. Depending on the type of plant, each has its own preferred method of winter protection and now is the time to do it.

Another form of winter protection you can do now is to protect your plants from animals. Damage from animals including deer, rabbits, mice, voles, and others can be significant, but is preventable. Animals can disfigure, strip, girdle, and kill all plants including trees, shrubs, and flowers.

Click here to order winter protection products from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.

Pernell Gerver's Gardening Q & Aby Pernell Gerver

"Transplant Rose of Sharon in Early Spring"

Q. I have a rose of Sharon that I've pruned into a small tree (thanks to one of your workshops) and I would like to transplant it from the back of my house to the front. Can I do that now or would it be best to wait until spring? It's an all-white rose of Sharon and it's beautiful in bloom. I would hate to lose it over the winter. I had a birch tree taken out and now the front looks rather open and this would be a great spot for the rose of Sharon. Please let me know. I would hate to do the wrong thing. Thank you.

A. I recommend waiting until next spring to dig up and transplant a rose of Sharon shrub. Try to do it early next spring, as soon as the ground thaws but while the plant is still dormant. Be sure to water it regularly throughout next summer to help it get established in its new location in your garden. To help prevent transplant shock, spray the shrub with Antidesiccant before you dig it up and throughout the summer.

Click here to read more about Antidesiccant and order it from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.

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