Western Mountains and High Plains

December, 2012
Regional Report

Protect Plants from Breakage from Ice and Snow

Avoid winter damage to evergreen shrubs and trees by wrapping them with landscape netting, especially those like columnar evergreens that are prone to snow breakage. Loosely tie weak branches with cloth or nylon strips. This prevents snow and ice from weighing down limbs and breaking branches.

Protect Plants with Mulch

After the ground freezes, apply a 2-3 inch deep layer of winter mulch. Spread weed-free straw, coarse homemade compost, evergreen boughs, or other loose materials that won't mat down around grafted roses, shallow-rooted perennials, and borderline-hardy plants, and on the soil atop beds of spring-blooming bulbs.

Prolong the Bloom of Holiday Plants

Get the most bloom time from your holiday plants such as poinsettias and cyclamens. Place them where they receive six hours of bright light. Keep them away from hot and cold drafts that stress the plants, causing the flowers to fade and drop. Use a wooden stake to support the emerging flower stem of an amaryllis before its magnificent blooms open.

Switch Birdfeeders for Winter Feeding

Now is a good time to switch from tray bird feeders to hopper-style feeders. These are more practical in winter time since moisture from rain and snow can damage the birdseed in open feeders. I also like tube feeders because they are easy to fill and clean.

Spruce Up Outdoor Planters

Use leftover evergreen boughs and cuttings from the Christmas tree and wreath-making to decorate outdoor containers. This will add evergreen color and fragrance and set the mood for the season. Be creative. Use cuttings of holly berries, pyracantha berries, hawthorn fruits, bittersweet berries or ornamental grass seed heads for additional visual interest.

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