Steps you should take to prepare plants for winter

Steps you should take to prepare plants for winter

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Different plants need different care to prep them for winter.

1. The Camellia is a late winter bloomer that needs acid soil and a fair amount of shade. They tend to grow tall and skinny so I pinch out the top to try to make it branch and sprinkle a few sulfur pellets on the soil to lower the pH. It needs to be in a loose potting soil that is damp but not wet. After the buds are formed try not to move the plant as it may just drop all of them.

2. Azaleas are small shrubs. Some are hardy but the florist type Azalea usually is not. The most common florist type is the Indian Azalea (Rhododendron simsii), hardy to zone 8-12. It is another plant liking acid soil so as I bring it in I scratch a tablespoon or so of sulfur granules in the top of the soil. It likes humidity so having several plants close to each other helps. To keep a Christmas gift in bloom requires that it be kept cool and moist but not wet, and brightly lit but not in direct sun. Too much sun or too little water will shorten the blooming season.

3. My Angel Trumpets are in 20-inch pots in an area protected from as much wind as possible as it tears the long (12-to-14-inch) trumpets. The plant blooms for a time, then takes a rest period when it grows and then blooms again. In a long summer one can get a number of bloom periods. They can be cut back and placed in a cool room for winter but that huge plant, plus the heavy pot are not easy to move around. In recent years I have taken cuttings with no flower buds and as small as practical. I have a yellow and a pink and may start several of each but usually they have little trouble rooting. I use a rooting hormone. In the greenhouse they grow fast so I try to have them small to start.

4. Peruvian Daffodils are not hardy in Nebraska and must be dug before a frost. I cut the tops off, separate the loose soil, and put them in boxes of vermiculite in an unheated room in the basement. Bulbs need to be dry in winter to avoid root rot. They are also known as Isemene, or Spider Lilies. They are natives of South America. They do well in florist bouquets so the growers plant bulbs spread out over a number of weeks as they bloom almost immediately after planting on stems about 24 inches long. The flowers are large (8 inches), white, with a large cup and 6 narrow petals. When planting, the nose is just at the soil surface. Mine grow in the very high shade of a cottonwood tree but not near the trunk. Bulbs need to be dry in winter to avoid root rot.

5. Another bulb to dig in the fall is the Giant Star of Bethlehem. Books and catalogues say they grow 3 feet tall but mine usually get 5 to 6 feet tall with slender 24 inch leaves. There are no leaves on the flower stems that bloom from bottom up, starting at 2 1/2 feet until it reaches 6 feet. They are planted about 4 inches deep in loose soil so are easy to dig. Some of you may have the short form (Ornithogalium nutans or Ornithogalium umbellatum) that can become invasive as they are hardy here. They have a single waxy white flower with a black center while the Giant has many clustered on the stem and takes a week for all of them to open. Like the Isemene, the bulbs need to be in a cool, dry place in the winter.

Copyright 2015

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