Despite the Onset of Winter, Gardening Chores Continue


Holly in the UT Gardens

​If January brings snow to your location, gardening experts recommend you brush it off evergreens before heavy accumulations can injure the plants.


Jason Reeves, curator of the University of Tennessee Gardens, Jackson, offers these tips for caring for your indoor plants and outdoor container plants and landscapes in January.

Indoors

· Don't forget to water your succulents. Just because they like it on the dry side doesn't mean they don't need water. The lack of humidity in your home during the winter months can dry them out more than you think. Depending on the pot size and the soil-to-plant ratio, consider watering them every two to three weeks. You might want to set them in the sink for the process. If they are really dry, you may need to water them twice because the first time you water them it may run through.

· Keep a check on tropical plants like elephant ears, bananas, cannas, ginger, agaves, and Boston and Kimberly Queen ferns that you may have stored in an enclosed garage, basement or crawl space under the house. Carefully check them for water. They don't need to totally dry out, but they can easily be overwatered causing them to rot. Any rotting foliage should be removed to prevent further decay.

· For some added color and fragrance during the bleak days of January and February, check out your local garden center for leftover paperwhite and amaryllis bulbs that are likely to be on sale now. Look for bulbs that are firm and have not sprouted. To keep your paperwhites from flopping over, add alcohol to the water. For details on this unusual cultural technique, check out this website from Cornell: http://blogs.cornell.edu/hort/2009/11/10/pickling-your-paperwhites/​.

· Once your Poinsettias begin to languish, often it is best to add them to the compost pile.

· Keep a check on stored garden produce such as potatoes, turnips, winter squash, apples and pears for bad spots that may lead to decay. Remove them and use those with small blemishes right away. Be sure the remaining produce is spread out to allow for good airflow.

· Study seed catalogs if the cold days of winter seem unrelenting, and dream of lush, warmer days.

Outdoors

· Continue to keep the leaves off your lawn, especially on cool-season lawns, because they continue to photosynthesize during the winter. We have the tendency to let the seemingly ever-falling oak leaves build up during the cold days of winter. On a dry, warmish day you can mow both cool- and warm-season lawns to help groom the lawn and mulch the leaves. Avoid heavy traffic on cool-season lawns when it is cold enough for the grass to be frozen. Frozen grass is easily broken and the crown can also be severely damaged.

· In the event of wet snow, brush it off evergreens as it accumulates, or as soon as possible after the storm. Use a broom in an upward, sweeping motion. Serious damage can be caused by heavy wet snow.

· Avoid using salt to melt snow and ice from your walks and driveway, as it can be harmful to your plants. Several environmentally friendly products are available at home improvement stores.

· As long as the ground is not frozen, you can continue to plant new trees and shrubs, just tuck them in with a 2- or 3-inch layer of mulch. Remember to keep the mulch away from the trunk.

· Pansies will benefit if you pinch off their withered and cold-damaged blooms.

The University of Tennessee Gardens include plant collections located in Knoxville, Crossville and Jackson. Designated as the official botanical garden for the State of Tennessee, the collections are part of the UT Institute of Agriculture. The Gardens’ mission is to foster appreciation, education and stewardship of plants through garden displays, educational programs and research trials. The Gardens are open during all seasons and free to the public. For more information, see the website: http://utgardens.tennessee.edu.

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Contact:

Jason Reeves, UT Gardens, Jackson,
jreeves@utk.edu

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