Luckily the winter brought some much needed snow to our area. This is a friendly reminder that we should always keep an eye on our landscape during the colder months and help Mother Nature every once in a while.
Do you look across your landscape and think your deciduous trees and plants look dead? Well, they are not. They are dormant. I like to think dormancy is similar to sleep. My graduate physiology professor would probably cringe at that analogy, but I like to keep it simple.
When we go to sleep each night, many activities take place in our body. We don’t temporarily die each night and then wake up resurrected the next morning. There are two types of dormancy in woody plants. To learn more, read this Michigan State University Extension article at bit.ly/3Hbe7fr.
Since we live in a semi-arid climate, we average about 14 inches of precipitation per year. Some of this precipitation comes from the nearly 60 inch snowfall we typically receive. In recent years, however, we have been several inches below our average.
Colorado State University Extension discusses supplemental watering during water. “Affected plants may appear perfectly normal and resume growth in the spring,” but these plants “may be weakened and some or all may die in late spring or summer when temperatures rise.” They have a detailed fact sheet on fall and winter watering at bit.ly/3EDREFz.
A moist floor will provide an insulating barrier in extremely cold temperatures. This helps protect plant roots. Water only when temperatures are above 40 degrees and do so in the middle of the day. Water your trees to a depth of 12 inches. Slow soaking is best, especially in hard clay soils. How many gallons should you water? Measure the diameter of the tree trunk at knee height, then multiply that number by 10. bit.ly/3Hsl6Qy.
Depending on how much snow we have received or not, you can adjust your watering schedule to once or twice a month. Don’t forget to water the entire drip line of tall trees. And, remember, a healthy plant is its best defense against insect and disease problems. Regular winter watering will keep the plants happy next summer.
Fun facts about snow: It can take 9 to 15 inches of snow to create 1 inch of precipitation. Actual water content depends on light, fluffy snow or heavy, wet snow. bit.ly/3JuDHNM.
Arianna Kelley Rawlsky holds a master’s degree in horticulture and is the director of Bringing People and Plants Together, an organization dedicated to bringing horticulture education and therapy to the community. For more information: [email protected] or follow us on Facebook.