Rick’s Deep Freeze Guide
In preparation for our first deep freeze coming this Sunday, Rick’s Garden Center would like to remind our fabulous customers to take some steps beforehand to help your plant friends and tools out.
- Water in outdoor trees, shrubs and perennials and cover root balls with mulch. Do not mulch up to the trunk. Moist soil conducts earth heat better than dry soil. The mulch will help keep in the heat and protect the sensitive root ball.
- Rose bushes, mulch up to the graft union at the base of the rose trunk. You can use a rose collar or just pile up mulch up to and above the graft union. The graft union will look like a bulging area on the main trunk just above the soil line.
- Bring in any tropical plants, cacti or succulents that are not at least a zone 5 inside.
- Check and move any plants that are blown on by heat vents. This will dry out the foliage in no time!
- Outdoor trees, shrubs and perennials planted in pots should be insulated with burlap bags or mulch and placed against a south or west wall of your home. Avoid watering these before the freeze.
- Water in newly established lawns and grass.
- Go ahead and plant those mums you bought in the ground.. They may come back next year!
- Disconnect and drain all hoses and drips lines from spigots
- Cover newly planted bulbs with leaf, needle or straw mulch.
- Blow out that sprinkler system!
- After the freeze, you do not have to pull up all of the dead material, so that pollinators and other insects have a place to overwinter.
Fall Perennial Planting
Planting in the fall can save you a lot of money while also giving plants a jump start next spring! Plants that establish strong roots during the fall will come back bigger and stronger in the spring time.
However, fall planting requires careful consideration and attention to detail from the gardener. The trick is to give fall plantings a little extra care to help them get established before the really cold weather sets in.
Here are four things you can do to help your plants get established:
At the time of planting, be sure to use an inoculant specifically formulated for perennials, trees and shrubs. These products will help the plant to start establishing roots before all of the foliage dies back. We recommend using an inoculant over a root stimulator this late in the season so you can avoid giving any extra nitrogen to the plant before it goes in to dormancy.
Mulch helps to retain soil moisture while also protecting roots from sudden changes in temperature. We recommend using 3″ of a good quality mulch to keep plants protected. Make sure that mulch does not contact the bark of woody perennials.
Protect Plants from Early Freezes
Keep an eye on the weather and cover the plants when the temperatures dip below freezing throughout September and October. This is most important for perennials. Trees do not need to be blanketed, but bark wrap should be used on all young trees to protect the trunks from splitting during our freezing and thawing cycles. When covering perennials, use heavy fabric or plastic and prop it up so that it is close to, but does not touch the plant (Plastic that touches the plant during a freeze can actually do more damage.) Be sure the covering goes all the way to the ground and cover the edges with soil or mulch so that it will trap heat from the soil.
To support adequate root growth, plants will need to be watered regularly in the fall. Keep your soil evenly moist, but not soggy, through the fall time. Remember to monitor your plants regularly! A plant that crisps up due to lack of water in the fall time is not likely to survive the winter. When the plant goes dormant, they will require less frequent watering, but will also need to be watered throughout the winter. Remember that desiccation is the result of cold weather plus dry soil. For more details on winter watering, visit our Blog.
Forcing Paperwhite Narcissus BulbsFlowering bulbs can be forced to bloom indoors, creating a beautiful display of color and fragrance even on the coldest days of winter. Some bulbs require a period of cold treatment to bloom, which can be a little tricky. If you’re new to forcing bulbs, we recommend starting with Paperwhite Narcissus. Paperwhite bulbs do not require a cold treatment and are super easy to bloom in water. Planting – A Simple Hydroponic Method
- Find a decorative bowl or dish that is 3 to 4 inches deep and holds water
- Fill the dish with about 2 to 3 inches of clean decorative rock, pebbles, pea gravel, perlite, or other very porous substrate leaving about 1 inch of head space at the top of the dish
- Add water until it is just slightly below the surface of the rock
- Set the bulbs on top of the rock with the basal plate (root end) facing down
- Use a little more gravel to cover the bottom quarter of the bulb
- Keep the water level just at the level of the basal plate (too much water will cause the bulb to rot)
- Bulbs typically do best if they are kept in a cooler location (50 to 60 degrees F) in low light for the first 2 to 3 weeks
- Once the bulbs are rooted and shoots appear, bring into direct sunlight and warmer temperatures
- When the flower buds begin to show their color, move the plants into indirect sunlight to prolong the flowers
- Plant new pots every two weeks starting in mid-October to have blooms from Thanksgiving into March.
- Keep bulbs out of reach of pets and children as these plants are toxic if ingested.
- Forced paperwhites will not likely rebloom, so it is best to toss out spent bulbs.