A little autumn aid for your evergreens

Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Evergreens should be watered slowly in order for moisture to penetrate to the roots. (Fred Lynch)

Because of the vagaries of our weather this year, trees and shrubs have certainly been stressed. First we had the nice warm weather in March that encouraged landscape plants to start their spring growth much earlier than normal.

Then the two-week freeze that chilled the area in April played havoc with trees and shrubs. They lost their leaves, flowers crumpled, and twigs were damaged. In some cases entire plants, especially many Japanese maples, were frozen and killed.

If the weather in March and April was not enough to stress your landscape plants, along came the drought in July and August. We recorded only 0.01 inches of rainfall in August.

Of course, since this is a year of unusual weather, we also got a dose of high temperatures. The temperatures in the 100s seemed to add insult to injury. Perhaps the plants didn't suffer, but gardeners sure did.

I don't think I have seen all of these weather conditions during the same year. The fact that any trees and shrubs are still alive will attest to their hardiness.

The year is not over. Mother Nature can still throw us some curves. I want to take this opportunity to suggest that you may want to do something now to aid your evergreen trees and shrubs as they begin to slow down growth and go into dormancy. Any additional weather-related stress could portend doom.

Before winter sets in, water your evergreen trees and shrubs at least two different times about two weeks apart. When you water, make sure that you water deeply. Let the hose trickle over the soil for several hours.

Why do you want to water your evergreen trees and shrubs before winter? You want to eliminate the potential of winter burn.

Evergreen trees and shrubs will transpire (lose water through the leaves) all winter long. The rate that they transpire will depend upon temperature and the amount of sunlight.

If the soil is frozen, and we have a midwinter warm up, evergreen trees and shrubs will transpire readily. If the ground is frozen, their roots can't replace the moisture lost. The result will be desiccation of the tissue in the evergreens, and possibly death.

Give the evergreen trees and shrubs in your landscape some recovering help this fall. Give them a drink of water two or three times. They just might need it if Mother Nature continues to give us extreme weather conditions for the rest of the year.

Send your gardening and landscape questions to Paul Schnare at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63702-0699 or by e-mail to news@semissourian.com.<I>;

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