I work at a retail gardening store and I literally get hundreds of customers asking gardening questions. The questions are as varied as the folks asking them. They range from "How do I kill a tree - to why are my leaves turning red on my red oak tree?" Most of the answers are stored inside my brain but, I do on occasion have to take out reference books to look up the answer.
Right now the winter gardening questions are coming in quicker than leaves falling on the ground. Here are some of the most common questions:
What do I do with my Lantana and Red Bird of Paradise (outdoor) plants now that we are getting freezing temperatures? Answer: Cut them down to the ground...both of them and cover them up with mulch to protect the root system. Water occasionally during the winter months. Do not get the "Red Bird of Paradise" confused with the "Indoor Bird of Paradise". Your spouse may get pretty upset if you cut down the "Bird of Paradise" to the ground. If you do not have freezing temperatures I'd still cut them down. They will bloom like crazy when the hot weather returns.
When should I winterize my lawn? Answer: Right now during the month of November or early December. Remember, Winterizer is a root vitamin not a fertilizer and should be used on cool seasonal type grasses. Use on all types of Fescue and Kentucky Blue Grasses. Not sure what type you have? If your grass is green during the month of January you have a cool season grass. Water cool season grasses about twice per month. Bermuda hybrid grasses go dormant during winter, water only occasionally and do not fertilize them.
Do I continue watering my trees and shrubs during winter? Answer: Well, yes and no. Water new plants and trees about twice per month during the cold season. Do not forget to turn up your watering system to about 2-3 times per week once spring arrives. Cut down or stop watering drought tolerant plants and trees if they have been in the ground over 5 years. Succulents need water about 2 times per months...tops. Do not water Cactus type plants unless you have them indoors.
Do I prune my roses/plants now? Answer: You can prune them anytime during the year but, only prune roses or plants if there is a need to. Many folks are convinced they have to prune roses during this time of year. Roses that look healthy and formed correctly need no pruning. Brown or dying branches should be trimmed off as low as possible. Foliage or limbs that are touching plants need to be trimmed. Remember to prune right above the leaves for a better looking plant.
I have grubs in my lawn should I apply a grub control now? Answer: Grubs come from the larvae of the Japanese Beetle. The best time to apply grub control is in late summer or early fall. For heavy infestation of grubs apply it during early spring and again in early fall. Grubs will also feed on shrub and tree roots. Most grub control products are labeled for lawns and plants but, not all products will say this. Read the label - if it contains: Imidacloprid your in business.
There you have it some good winter gardening tips. BTW....Here is the answer to the first two questions?
How to kill a tree? Answer: Remove the bark completely around the tree about 6" wide. The deeper the better. This will prevent it from taking most nutrients into the tree. Just like people without nutrients you/it will die.
Why are the leaves on my Red Oak Tree turning red? Without getting too technical I'll try to answer: Chlorophyll... the green pigment in leaves is Chlorophyll this is why they stay green in summer. The production of chlorophyll in trees requires sunlight and warm temperatures. Once fall time temps come around the colder or freezing temps destroy Chlorophyll thus preventing the leaves from staying green. Cool weather along with bright sunshine helps in the formation of anthocyanins. This is the substance that makes red oaks turn red along with other colorful fall season trees.
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