Utah’s winters can be brutal, especially on shrubs and other plants.
The winter sun, when combined with the brutal northern Utah wind and cold, can scorch foliage, damage bark and kill or injure branches, flowers and roots. Snow and ice do their own types of damage by breaking branches and sometimes even bringing down large limbs or an entire tree.
More damage can be done by the salt used to make roads safe from ice as well as by scavenging rodents and deer who will feed on your shrubs and plants whenever food is scarce.
Keep reading to find out how to protect your plants and shrubs most effectively this season.
The First Step to Cold Weather Protection
A healthy plant is a one that can withstand the winter. You can best accomplish this by keeping your plants in good condition throughout the other three seasons of the year. After you’ve accomplished this arduous task, you can take a few additional steps to protect your plants from the brutalities of winter.
Helping Plants and Shrubs Fight the Cold
Your shrubs, vines and trees need an opportunity to harden in order to avoid the damage that comes with freezing temperatures. Hardening can be encouraged in two ways, by:
- Withholding water
- Fertilizing with a low-nitrogen, high-phosphorus and potassium fertilizer
As you fertilize your plants, inspect the state of tree stakes and lattices to ensure they will stay secure through winter’s punishing winds. Put mulch around the root areas of your shrubs to keep the dirt from freezing and to help encourage root growth throughout the winter season.
You may wonder if pruning is appropriate in the cold and the answer is yes — sort of.
The only vegetation you should prune during the winter is shrubbery and deciduous trees. Prune them around the first of the year, when you know they’ve gone dormant. Evergreens and desert plants don’t require pruning until early in the spring.
Deer and Rodent Damage
Some friendly creatures will only take a little nibble from your shrubs and plants to sustain themselves, but most of the time rodents and deer will make an all-you-can-eat buffet out of your plants and shrubs if you aren’t careful.
If you have a lot of deer where you live, then you may need to place wire mesh cages around young plants as well as those that are deer favorites. You can also buy spray-on deer repellent for extra protection.
Rodents will nest in your mulch and chew on plant stems and roots under the snow. To prevent this damage, place mulch a minimum of four inches away from the base of your plants. You can also use plastic tree guards around some of your more vulnerable trees and shrubs as well as newer plants.
If you have questions about how best to protect your plants and shrubs this winter, drop by and visit us at Millcreek Gardens in Salt Lake City. We have a wide array of plant safeguarding materials, mulch and all the tools you will need to protect your landscape, trees and shrubs this winter.