Let us hope that this winter will not be like the last.
The worst was that even if we had expected it, we could do nothing to save our plants from that sudden freeze following a very late summer in November. But there are some precautions we can and should always take.
Precautions For Plants In Winter
First, be sure that all evergreens, especially the broad-leafed ones, have plenty of moisture in the soil.
This often calls for heavy watering in late fall or early winter, sometimes after we have turned off the water in the yard. Unfortunately, few realize how much damage is caused by plain drying out of the plants.
Second, reduce the number of freezings and thawings of the soil by liberal mulching with some form of organic material.
If possible, use a kind free from weed seeds, for you no doubt have plenty. So why introduce any new ones?
Third, make liberal use of a cold frame to protect plants from doubtful hardiness.
A sash or board to cover the structure to keep out excess rain and a piece of burlap or layer of leaves to shade the plants will be added protection.
If you are lazy, put a piece of plastic or burlap over the plants before you cover them with leaves to make it easier to lift them out next spring.
Fourth if you have a drainage problem, it will pay to put in lines of unglazed drain tile 25’ feet apart to carry excess water to a lower level or a drain.
It is illegal to run it into a sanitary sewer, however.
Preparing For Next Spring
There is still time to sow seeds of hardy flowers. A cold frame is the best place for they will be all ready to come up next spring.
Try planting them in a 1” inch layer of equal parts clean sand and peat moss. Use India ink on painted wooden labels. Cover the frame with a sash for the winter.
In another part of the frame, where it can be shaded, put a 3” inch layer of the coarse vermiculite sold for house insulation.
Make 3” inch cuttings of the tip growth of yew, boxwood, pachysandra, wintercreeper, English ivy, junipers, and firethorn.
In colder areas, it will be well to cover them with a 1-inch layer of fiberglass batting until late March, with a cheesecloth and a sash. They should be rooted by mid-summer.
If you have no amaryllis, why not start planting one or two each week?
You can put them in 4” inch pots unless they are the big Dutch hybrids. This way, you can have almost twice as many on any window sill as if you had used 6” inch pots.
The inexpensive bulbs will not have as large flowers or quite such pure colors as the more expensive ones, but you will get just as much pleasure from them.
There is still time to pot up tulips and other spring flowering bulbs for late winter bloom.
It will take 8 weeks in a cold place for them to grow the necessary roots to bloom. Try burying them outdoors under moist peat or sawdust.
Be sure they are thoroughly wet before covering them, or they will not root properly.
Paperwhite narcissus does not need the cold treatment to bloom. Instead, just pot them up in soil or gravel and water and put them in an excellent sunny window.
If you have a gas stove in the kitchen with any leak, you will soon find that the narcissus is more sensitive than you, for the buds will blast.
44659 by Victor H. Ries