Immature Condition Can Cause Winter Injury

By Thomas Fryd

Winter injury in herbaceous and woody perennials may be caused by a number of things. One factor is that many of the plants go into winter in a "green" or immature condition. This is caused when plants receive too much moisture during the late part of the season. If it is due to too much rainfall, not much can be done about it, but if artificial watering is practiced, it should be reduced at this season. Hence it is good advice not to overwater perennials too much at this time of the year, so that maturity is encouraged.

This applies as well to deciduous shrubs and trees, and evergreens. The drier period during the fall starts certain chemical changes in the plant so that they are better prepared to stand cold weather when winter sets in. This does not mean that the plants should go into the winter in a very dry condition. At about the time light frosts occur, a thorough watering of all perennial plants will help to put them in better condition for winter survival.

Fall is a good planting season for many herbaceous perennials and a must for the planting of spring flowering bulbs. In the West area, fall planting is questionable for a great number of our deciduous shrubs and trees. If fall planting is done, it should be started as soon as the plants show signs of dormancy. Unless the job is urgent, the average gardener will find it best to wait until spring to do most of his tree and shrub planting. Survival is likely to be much better. Successful fall planting depends on a long fall season, so that plants may establish a good root system before winter sets in.

A number of perennials can be divided and transplanted at this time of the year. Peonies, Oriental poppies, bleeding heart, asparagus and rhubarb are such plants that will benefit from fall transplanting aside from corn plant, especially if the clumps have become crowded, overgrown or weed-ridden. Normally, they do not need frequent dividing unless such conditions exist like in corn plant care.

Although irises are best transplanted around midsummer, this job can be done in the fall. Shasta daisies may also be divided and reset at this time of year. - 29857

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