Monthly Archives: November 2014

Water in the Winter and Antidesiccants

11-18-14 browned shrubsIf you’ve ever participated in winter sports, you know how easy it is to forget to drink water with snow around, yet once you do, you realize how thirsty you are! It is easy to get dehydrated if you’ve been outside for a while in the winter sun. Plants are no different.

When it is super cold outside, the humidity in the air drops significantly. That is what makes the air feel clean and crisp. And why you need a humidifier indoors. This dry air can cause serious damage to plants especially when combined with wind and sun. Even though it is cold outside, it can be warm inside the plant’s leaf – and water evaporates. When a plant loses more water than it can replenish through its roots, the natural process of transpiration (water loss through plant respiration) causes plant desiccation. Desiccation is when the plant cells collapse and die after drying out, causing discolored/ brown/dry areas of tissue. We call this winter burn.

Most important: we can’t prevent the soil around the roots from freezing – but we can give our plants a leg up prior to the ground freezing. Watering your trees and shrubs well into the fall, right up until the ground freezes, can help plants fully hydrate. We recommend watering through Thanksgiving. This is especially important if rain has been scarce during the growing season like this summer.

For some evergreens and bro11-18-14 dessicated rhodo leavesadleaf evergreens like Rhododendrons and Hollies, antidesiccant sprays can help. The anti-transpirant spray coats the leaves and diminishes the loss of moisture through the leaf’s pores, much like an oil based lotion on your legs. These sprays should be used in late December (temps @ 40°), only after the evergreen is fully dormant. Otherwise water can get trapped in the leaf and freeze, causing cellular damage. Our sources indicate that antidesiccants are not reliably effective and can actually harm some plants like Chamaecyparis and Blue Spruce. Read the label and follow directions carefully if you want to try it.

You may recall seeing shrubs all bundled up in burlap in the winter. This can be effective, particularly when the plant is subject to sun and wind or salt. But the cold still gets inside the burlap. We only recommend burlapping shrubs if they are in a very vulnerable location. Often these “winter tasks” are more for our comfort as the gardener looking at our plants rather than for the plant’s benefit. This is true too for salt marsh hay. We don’t use salt marsh hay for a variety of reasons – we leave a layer of leaves on perennial beds. The best “blanket” is actually snow itself, which keeps the temperature around the leaves consistent and blocks the sun.

With winters, we face the vagaries of nature and have to admit that we can only do so much to help our friends the plants.

 

Can I come play at your house really soon?

11-11-14 container - neuvouMy annuals are fading and my hosta is mushy.  The cold predicted for the end of this week will certainly kill anything freezeable.  Bye bye to summer and fall.

But instead of being sad, I am excited.  In a couple weeks I get to do one of my favorite things:  make Winter and Holiday containers.  Why do I love decorating containers?  Perhaps because it is so immediate and tangible.  Instead of laboring over measurements, making sure I have plants that bloom in spring, summer and fall and look good in winter or is the patio big enough, I get to bring a truck of greens, twigs, pinecones, ribbons, berries and good ‘ol stuff and whip up some magic right then and there.  Filling a container with plant remnants without any worries about sun, shade, water, soil, bunnies or ongoing care is a relief.   Just make it beautiful, for now.  Beautiful with textures and greens for a non-Christmas look – or doing Christmas with ribbons or as I did last year, adding cast off skis for a winter smile.

11-11-14 container - vertical white closeupAct now and get on our calendar for beautiful outdoor winter and holiday decorations.  We do everything to order and with a conversation with you.  Let us put some cheer in your winter season. Check out these photos.

THE DETAILS:

  • We will add all the decoration materials to your existing pots by the front door or bring pots to festoon.
  • We will start on December 1st, the Monday after Thanksgiving.
  • A pair of average outdoor pots (18”) on your front porch = $245 for one pot or $425 for 2 pots.  Let’s discuss window boxes or rope garland.
  • We can hang lights up to 15’ high.
  • I am making a few decorated Wreaths – price point about 200.  Let me know if you want one.  They are very unique.

NEXT STEP:  Email me and I will send you an order form – or talk to you on the phone.

Christie@christiedustman.com

DEADLINE:  Monday November 24th – please let me know by then.

11-11-14 container square container - moss wave 11-11-14 container - vertical white 11-11-14 container - trad Christmas - clay pot11-11-14 container - trad Christmas