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Winter Issues In Your Garden

By Amanda Whatley Owen
web posted January 2, 2018
GARDENING   Happy New Year, everyone!  As we move into January and February, South Carolina winters get colder and colder.   We have already experienced several frosty mornings. 

Hard frosts are on the way and with it, come numerous plant problems, one being dehydration.  In previous articles we have discussed how to prepare your garden for the winter by using compost, tree limbs, as well as sheets and burlap. There may be a few plants, such as camellias, that may have been missed and now are damaged due to frost, or disease and fungus.


Late fall, was the perfect time to plant new shrubs and small trees for your landscape or garden.  Heavy frosts tend to take out young small trees and shrubs, causing heartache and aggravation to any homeowner or gardener. If you have not already, be sure to wrap the newly planted trees, and shrubs in burlap or old bed sheets, anything breathable. If frost has already began to cause damage do not discard or cut down anything just yet! Small trees will sometimes get frost crack damage.  Just keep the tree clean of any loose, or torn bark. 
 
If your shrubs have already been bullied by Jack Frost, and are showing signs of damage, do not cut the frost damage out of the shrubs.  Keeping the damaged pieces on the shrubs actually helps protect and shield the rest of the plant from becoming brutalized. Spring time will be the time to remove all dead debris and clean up the plants (later article). 
 
When a plant freezes from the low, night time temperatures, it is not the frost that is actually hurting them, it is the sun.  When the sun rises in the morning, the plant is defrosting too fast and that is what is causing the damage.
 
There are two ways to help control this.  First, if possible, move your plants away from the super sunny area (North side).  If that is not practical then another way is to lightly mist the plants with water in the morning, before the sun fully rises.  This will start the thawing process, lessening the shock that the plant goes through when thawing.  A cool tip that a lot of nurseries use to protect their vast amount of plants before a freeze, is that they over-water their plants in the late afternoon (except camellias).  This keeps the plant super hydrated.  Many plants can handle 32 degree frozen water on them.  It acts as a shield to protect them.    

Even though it is winter, you will still encounter some plant pest and especially fungal problems.  Most pest problems gardeners deal during the winter will be with their camellias.  A few pest would be scale, and spider mites.  Some of the fungal problems you may encounter will be blight, or mold.  Since camellias are subject to fungus and mold, this particular plant should not be over-watered.  Be sure to keep any dropped leaves raked up to keep disease from spreading.
 
You can treat the plant and surrounding soil with copper oil, or insecticides from your local garden store. I would suggest making sure the temperature will at least reach 60 degrees the day you apply your chemicals.  Applying chemicals in the severe cold can cause more damage.
 
Join us next week as we start our spring cleaning process.  I will explain some great ways to tackle large yards and gardens.  We'll prepare a spring checklist and schedule to make sure we will be ready!




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