Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Winter Watering -- Plants Need Water Throughout Winter

Now that metro-Atlanta has had a taste of cold weather, many folks are ready to roll up the hose and turn off the irrigation system. But conifers, broad-leaf evergreens, and recently planted ornamentals need additional water to be supplied to their disrupted root systems until their myriad feeder roots grow out into the native soils. Extra water is needed so the limited root systems can absorb enough moisture to supply limbs and leaves and to prevent die back.

If an inch of water per week is not supplied by rainfall, Crabapple LandscapExperts recommend slow watering applied directly to the root ball. A soaker hose or water breaker nozzle is a good choice for slow water delivery. Take particular care to water underneath the limbs of evergreens, specimens or hedges because the branches can act as a shield to divert rain water, leaving the ground drier than ever. For established plants with larger root systems, apply the water to a wider circumference to make sure all the roots are supplied. .

Atlanta's seesaw temperatures are confusing for people and plants alike! Trees, shrubs and perennials that were planted or transplanted this autumn are especially susceptible to drying out as temperatures range from below freezing to 68 degrees F. and from cold, drying winds to bright sunny days.

Evergreens transpire water out of their leaves all winter long. This makes it essential to replace lost moisture whenever temperatures rise above freezing.
  • Broad-leaf evergreens such as holly, anise, boxwood, pittosporum, magnolia, camellia and tea olive can rapidly dry out in winter as well as during the growing season. 
  • Needle-leaf evergreens like pine, juniper, arborvitae, cedar, yew and Japanese plum yew also need a water supply during the cold months. Conifer branches often prevent rain water from reaching the ground so that it is dry under the canopy even after a rain.
Two to three inches of a good organic mulch applied over the top of moistened soil will help to maintain moisture levels at a constant level. Keep an eye on your new transplants throughout the winter. Ask your Crabapple Rep if you have questions about wintertime water needs of your plants.


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