Choose the plants carefully for your winter garden. While some plants and flowers will die due to the frozen soil and lack of water, others will survive and bloom during the cold and frosty weather. There are many plants that grow during fall and winter that provides colorful and attractive elements. Snowdrop plants, with their white flowers, and the winter jasmine are two plants that will thrive during the winter months. For a winter bloom, plant the bulbs in the fall when the soil is still moist and easy to work with.
You do not have to cut down and prune your winter plants, as they can provide shelter for smaller animals or food for birds. However, if you see diseases or infestations of bacteria on your branches or leaves, cut them off to avoid the plant dying from the infection. Cut the branches so they reach about 3 inches above the ground.
Help Plants to Thrive
Provide the winter plants with support as needed. Cover an evergreen shrub with burlap, which protects the plant from suffering sun and wind damage. The burlap should not touch the plant or foliage. For perennials, add shredded leaves over the plant crowns before they bloom, as winter's freezing and thawing cycle can cause damage to the plant's root system above ground.
As the bulb is planted in the fall, it is important to keep it growing and thriving until the soil becomes hard or frozen. Water during the dry spells during fall, so the bulbs and roots can retain the water for energy. If no water is retained during the fall months, the plant might suffer winter damage, which can prevent its growth. Also, just because the weather is cold, doesnít mean the ground has frozen. The ground takes longer to cool off than the air does. As long as the ground is not frozen and can accept water, you should water at least your evergreens. Most of the other plants are fairly dormant by now and not using much water. Evergreens, on the other hand, keep their needles all winter and can lose water through those needles. Keeping water supplied to the roots on a weekly basis as long as possible into the fall and winter season will help reduce stress on those evergreens.
Snow and Ice
As we get into winter, the threat of damage from snow and ice is always near. When snow piles up on evergreens, try to gently brush it off. Donít shake the branches as this may cause them to break. If the snow is frozen on the branch and will not brush off easily, it is best to let it melt naturally, to avoid damage to the tree or shrub. If tree limbs break due to the weight of ice or snow, it is advisable to have the broken limbs removed as soon as the weather permits. Hanging branches can be a danger to passing pedestrians. Also, the tree will be able to heal the wound better in spring if the wound has clean edges instead of ragged tears.
Sometimes in the middle of winter, we suddenly get a few warm days. For the most part, this is not a big problem, but you may need to check on a couple of things. If you covered your roses with rose cones, you may need to ventilate the cone to prevent heat from building up inside. The same should be done with coldframes. If it is a warm, sunny day, the temperatures may be rising in the cold frame more than you expect. Remember to close vents as the temperature drops again at night.
Turning to the indoor environment, we need to keep our holiday plants fresh and blooming. Most of our blooming holiday plants prefer to be in a cool room. This keeps the plant in flower longer. Most holiday plants also need a bright room (some do well with direct sun, others do not). Keep these plants out of drafts to keep them in good health.
If you order seeds from a catalog, get your order in by the end of January. Early orders help insure that you get the seeds you want and that you have them in time to start them indoors if you want.
It is very common to find insects meandering around the house in winter. All kinds of critters come into the house looking for a place to rest for the winter. Common nuisance pests are boxelder bugs, houseflies, squash bugs and the multicolored Asian ladybeetles. As you encounter nuisance insects, just vacuum them up. Avoid smashing them as some leave stains or odors when smashed. Do not store firewood in the house. Insects can come in with firewood. Leave the wood outside until you are ready to build a fire. Firewood should never be treated with insecticides and insecticides are often not needed for most home invaders.