5 mistakes in preparing plants for winter
The next season of plant shelter has come for the winter, and gardeners are thinking how to do it right, bearing in mind past “punctures”. Many blame winters that are too harsh, others blame bad seedlings, and some say that shelter is useless. The latter, I must say, are somewhat correct, because a successful wintering of plants is not only a “blanket” thrown from above, but a whole complex of measures combined into a single whole. One link will drop out and “write lost” - the plant may not wake up in the spring. In this article I will describe the 5 most common mistakes that we make when preparing our plants for wintering.
Mistake number 1 - we cover everything
Most of the plants on your site were most likely bought at a local nursery, garden center, or local market, i.e. from local manufacturers. So, they are regionalized and adapted to the local climate, and they will calmly survive the winter, unless, of course, it is abnormal. By “abnormal” it should be understood too cold and, conversely, too warm winters.
In addition, many of the plants you planted in past years have already adapted on their own. Indeed, you must admit that a more adult plant, as a rule, tolerates all winter adversities better. But if you like and want to grow plants from the southern regions, then they can’t do without shelter. As well as seedlings and plants in containers planted this year cannot do without it.
Mistake number 2 - we manage with one shelter
Here, as in football, the main task of a coach is to bring his team to an important tournament at the peak of a sports form. In the same way, the gardener should bring his plants to winter at the peak of the "sports form". Only then is victory possible. And this means that even before shelter it is necessary to carry out a whole range of agrotechnical measures. Their goal:
- the plant should stop growing shoots;
- the shoot should be lignified, covered with a dense protective shell;
- the kidneys should be fully formed;
- the plant must accumulate enough, so-called cryoprotectants, substances that protect the plant from the damaging effects of freezing.
We all know that when freezing, water expands and tears even metal containers left in the cold. But what about plant buds? The same thing: if there is a lot of water in them, then when they freeze, they will burst, and the plant will either come out of the winter damaged, or, in general, will not. Cryoprotectants are a kind of antifreeze for a plant.
How to achieve this? If you do not take into account summer and autumn events, such as timely: pinching shoots, pruning and processing from pests and diseases, then on the eve of winter it’s worth:
- conduct water-loading irrigation. With deep moistening of the soil under the plant, we, due to the high thermal conductivity of water, seem to pull heat from the bowels of the earth closer to the surface, to the roots. This will not allow them to freeze completely and will even help fight winter dehydration.
Read more about moisture charging irrigation in our article.
- to produce loosening tree trunks. This measure, on the contrary, prevents the penetration of cold winter air down to the roots. The loose and porous structure serves as a kind of thermal insulation.
- costs extra mulch and even spud near-stem circles with a layer of something loose: not earth, but, say, peat or compost. However, take your time with earthing up, too early (at positive temperatures and precipitation) can serve poor service and lead to damage to the root neck.
- on the eve fertilize plants. But, of course, not with nitrogen-containing fertilizers, but with autumn phosphorus-potash fertilizers, preferably complex ones, which also contain a large supply of necessary trace elements. Phosphorus, potassium and trace elements increase the plant's resistance to stress - too low temperatures and sudden fluctuations (frost - thaw).
- initially, when planting sheltering plants, try to find for them the right place in the garden - secluded, without drafts.
Mistake number 3 - we hide at the wrong time
A big and often fatal mistake for plants is made by those who hide their plants too early. In this case, perhaps the most important thing is to choose the right moment and do the shelter process in stages. While the temperatures are positive, even if at night they are small (-2 ... -3 ° С) frosts, this is not a reason to sound the alarm. We calmly observe the weather forecast. If you cover it too early, the plants will simply be sprinkled from excess moisture and high temperature under cover. Take cover too late - freeze. So, when?
During the day, the temperature is 0 ... + 1 degree, and at night it is -3 ... -4 ° C - in my opinion, the best time for shelter. This is of course, theoretically, in practice, the temperature sometimes “walks” in a wide range. Therefore, it is worth doing the shelter in stages. First, trim, process, bend and pin to the ground, then cover slightly (if anything, you can open it easily) and only with a constant "minus" finish the shelter thoroughly.
Mistake number 4 - not proper shelter
Gardeners have come up with different ways of sheltering plants for the winter (and I continue to experiment). Proceed from the characteristics of the site, the availability of materials and, most importantly, the characteristics of the plants themselves. Do not use the same type of shelter for all plants.
Some - grapes, figs, pomegranates - you can just fill up with earth, and cover with something from erosion on top. This is usually enough. But there are persimmons, roses, rhododendrons, etc., which are prone to drying out, and they will need, so-called, dry air cover. To do this, a rigid frame of pipes, rails, fittings, boxes is installed around the plant. They are tightened on top, with some material and covered with a layer of insulation on top of it.
Dry fallen leaves are often used as such a heater. Only they must be dry, i.e. collected in advance and stored in bags in the barn. It is better to take the leaves of oak, maple, birch (and walnut is suitable, no matter what), they decompose for a long time. From the leaves of the apple tree, pear, apricot by the middle of winter, nothing can remain, which means that there will be no warming effect from them.
Great for coniferous needles and coniferous spruce branches. Remember that the needles also perfectly protect against mice. Indeed, mice often winter themselves in shelters made by us with love. At the same time, they have a “dining table” nearby, you don’t need to go out (the bark of our plants).
Only coniferous spruce trees should not be harvested in the forest with an ax. Look for already fallen branches or stock up on clearings from already fallen trees (or New Year's).
Read more about the methods and materials for winter sheltering of plants in our article.
It is worth remembering that all plant residues (leaves and fruits) before shelter must be removed from the plant and not left on the ground under shelter, this can also attract mice or cause rotting.
Mistake No. 5 - Unsuitable Shelter Material
You just read: “they are covered with some kind of material on top ...”. Surely, many presented a polyethylene film in this capacity. It is better not to use it, much less to wrap plants tightly in it. They, most likely, will not survive such care (they will vomit).
There are modern materials specially created for these purposes with the general name agrofibre. Its purpose is to keep the heat inside the shelter (we do not need to additionally warm the plants in winter, we need to try to keep the heat coming from the ground) and at the same time let the plant “breathe”. Plus - its mechanical strength allows you to pile on it a layer of leaves or needles.
Wintering container plants
Separately, I will say a few words about the wintering of container plants. It is better to send very young seedlings and rooted cuttings to winter in the basement (deciduous) or a bright room (coniferous). But both of them will need to observe a strict temperature regime: optimally +0 +5 degrees. And do not forget them sometimes, but moderate watering, not allowing the earthen to dry completely.
Plants in large containers (we are talking about street plants) should be buried completely in the ground, and a dry shelter should be arranged above them, as described above. In this case, it is better to collect such plants together and give them a general shelter.
Well, perhaps all the mistakes that we can make for the good of our beloved plants, saving them from the cold.
Have a good winter for you and your plants!