Mid-Atlantic

December, 2010
Regional Report

Prepare Your Tree Peony for Winter

Remove tree peony leaves; they might be carrying fungus. Don't cut the woody stems. They hold buds for next season's flowers. Check for holes in older plant stems that might hold borers. If you find a rose borer in the stem, cut off that stem piece or poke a thin wire into the hole to kill the larvae. Seal hole with white glue. Top dress the soil with compost.

Fence Trees and Shrubs from Deer

Here is an alternative to deer fencing the whole property. Build individual circular structures to protect trees and shrubs. The protection can be a simple as chicken wire attached to 6-ft. poles surrounding the tree or wire fencing anchored by wooden stakes around shrubs. Drive three or four posts, poles or stakes into the ground 3 to 4 feet from the tree or shrub base - outside the longest branches. Encircle the uprights with sturdy wire fencing at least 6 feet tall. Anchor the fencing to make a strong barrier the deer can't reach through or over.

Divide Emerging Spring Daffies

We're finding daffodil tips pushing their way up through the soil. In some spots they are a large, crowded mass of bulbs that would benefit from division. If the soil isn't yet frozen, take this opportunity to divide these and replant them. Carefully dig out the clump and divide the bulbs. Replant them a foot apart at a depth three times the bulb size.

Remove Leaves and Debris in and under Shrubs

It's easy to overlook this important winter garden cleanup task. Even if we blow or vacuum surrounding leaves, some will lodge among the lowest branches. They should be removed by hand-- which means stooping, squatting or sitting in a position where we can reach in and pull out all the accumulated debris. You may see egg cases on the leaves and evidence of scale or white, wooly-looking stuff sticking to stems and branches. Removing those homes for pests and diseases benefits shrubs by their absence AND by opening up space for good air circulation.

Mulch Roses and Tree Peonies as Winter Protection

Apply three inches of shredded leaves or oak bark mulch at the base of roses and tree peonies to protect the grafts and roots through winter's variable temperatures. If your tree peony stem looks fragile or is quite exposed, mound some loose shredded leaves high on the exposed or fragile stem. Do the same with an exposed rose graft. A blanket of loose leaves will allow air circulation, yet won't hold so much moisture that the stem or cane rots.

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