As we get out our heavier sweaters and winter coats to protect ourselves from the cold, it’s also time to think about our trees, shrubs and plants. Just like many of us don’t like a dip in temperatures and unpredictable temperature swings, neither do most plants. But there are some things you can do to help make sure your precious ornamentals will survive what mother nature has to dish out this winter.
One of the biggest problems is that trees and shrubs lose a lot of moisture during the winter and tend to dry out. To help prevent that from happening, it’s important to continue to water all your trees and plants throughout the entire fall, as long as possible. Mulch is also important. It’s recommended that a layer of mulch two-to-four inches thick is placed around the base of your Indiana landscape plants and trees to help them retain moisture. Anti-desiccant sprays can also help. They leave a waxy coating on evergreen needles preventing moisture loss. You can also wrap your trees in canvas or burlap. That will help them retain moisture during windy days and help prevent breakage from heavy Indiana snow.
Fertilization is also a key to keeping your trees and shrubs healthy, but you have to make sure you do it at the right time. You must fertilize after they’ve gone dormant so the nutrients can help the plants overwinter and recover in the spring. If they’re not dormant, the fertilizer may spur growth making the plant vulnerable to damage. Now is also the time to protect against hungry critters. Place a metal guard or liquid repellent around the base of trees and shrubs to keep small animals from eating them for dinner when the food supply diminishes. It’s also a good time to put up windbreakers and tie branches together with twine or netting to prevent breakage from the weight of Indiana snow.
Also beware of salt or ice-melting products. Just like they’re hazardous for animals, they’re also hazardous for your plants and trees. Use sand instead and make sure you protect your ornamentals from salt thrown by road crews, with plastic sheeting. And when the white stuff sticks, be sure to remove all accumulating Indiana snow on your Indiana landscape plants and trees with a broom so they’re not damaged.