Pacific Northwest

December, 2005
Regional Report

Protect Roses

Once temperatures dip into the 30s, it's time prepare hybrid roses for winter weather. Prune canes to about 3 feet and spread protective organic mulch around the plant. I simply mound bark mulch around the base of the rose, high enough to cover the graft union (the swollen part of the stem near the ground). Hardy old-fashioned and shrub roses can be left as is for winter.

Mulch Root Vegetables

Use hay or straw to mulch root vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips, and rutabagas, that will be stored in the ground for winter. Mulch will protect the ground from repeated freezing and thawing, which could push the roots right out of the soil.

Keep Plants From Standing in Water

Watch for standing water in perennial beds after long periods of rain. Water that collects on the surface during winter will freeze, damaging perennials or causing the crowns of some plants to rot. Dig shallow trenches to help drain excess water away, and make a note to raise those beds in spring.

Mulch Prematurely Growing Bulbs

Hardy spring bulbs sometimes send up new shoots in the middle of winter when the weather seems much too cold. I always worry about the 3-inch daffodil shoots or blooming crocus when snow is predicted, but they are remarkably resistant to cold temperatures. With mulch for root protection, these plants will manage well on their own, stopping growth during cold spells and resuming when it warms up again. The only help you can offer is to place 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch around any exposed shoots if snow is predicted.

Caring for Outdoor Chrysanthemums

Cut chrysanthemum stems back to ground level after they have stopped blooming. Dispose of stems and leaves by tossing them into the compost pile. Provide protection from winter cold with a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch. When new shoots appear in spring, dig the root mass and divide the plant, taking some roots with each new shoot.

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