ST. GEORGE – Maintaining plants and shrubs during the Southern Utah winter is simple. Give it time and water correctly, said Dan Jones, owner of Precision Landscaping and Maintenance in St. George.
Plants, like palm trees, can look dead or brown, but are dormant.
“Many plants may not come out of it till March or April,” Jones said. “I have people ask me to tear a lot of things out, but I try to tell them to wait, because a lot may come out of it.”
Because of the unusual December 2013 freeze and frost in Southern Utah, many homeowners are unsure how to handle the residual damage.
“We really had a severe frost that was very uncommon,” said Eric Christensen owner of Heritage Home and Garden. “I drive around I see the palm trees and, even the shrubs that have been burnt from the cold. They are going to need to be pruned back in late February depending on the temperature, and you can kind of tell where to prune to.”
In instances of extreme cold, burning of plants which can be seen around Southern Utah means frost bite. These burnt areas need to be pruned so new growth can begin in spring. If pruning occurs too soon, the still cold temperatures could cause more harm to the plant.
“Through the winter there isn’t a lot of maintenance needed,” Jones said. “Some trimming is needed but not too much. In early March I would start your trimming. No fertilizing till March also.”
Once the temperatures settle and we start moving into spring, diagnosing the point of pruning for your plants can help with the maximum growth.
“Take your thumb nail and scratch the branches, and see if there is any green showing underneath,” Christensen said. “The tips might be dead but if you get back into the plant you can most likely find some green. That is where you need to prune to …. I just think that people are going to have to do a lot more pruning this year than normal to prune off the tips of the plants or branches to get down to where there is less damage.”
The next key to helping your plants survive the winter is proper watering. Both Jones and Christensen said that most homeowners overwater their plants.
“People tend to overwater in the winter if they leave their sprinklers on,” Jones said. “When it is dry like the past three to four weeks, I would water only once a week. Most grass is okay, but will do better with water. Even evergreen plants need a little bit of water.”
Christensen estimates that overwatering kills as many plants as disease and bugs. The way to avoid over watering is to water less frequently but deeper into your soil.
“Push the water down in the soil,” Christensen said. “You do it by watering for longer periods of time, but skipping days.”
If you have potted plants, they will need more water and warmth because they do not have the natural insulation and moisture from the soil around them.
“This year I saw the cold coming so I brought my potted plants indoors to protect them, but when it gets up in the 50s I will set them out in the sun and then bring them back in,” Christensen said.
If you are concerned about your trees or plants since the winter you can find resources at starnursery.com, call a local arborist or go into any local nursery.
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