Gardening has been a lifelong passion for Wende and she’d like to share her passion with her readers. Follow her as she writes about her gardening adventures, lists tasks to do depending on the season, and gives easy to understand gardening advice.
With all this warm weather lately, the plants think Spring is almost here! I noticed buds on trees that are easily seen as I drive by, tulips are trying to poke through the ground, and my parsley is still green and growing in the back yard!
I gotten a few questions from friends about what to do so that they can save their tulips from dying. Let me assure you, for the most part, any plant that was hardy enough to tough it out over winter and is starting to grow now will not die when we get another freeze. The bad news is that in Wisconsin we may still get freezing weather through April. Some years are worse than others, but if we do get a hard freeze, those portions of plants that are green and growing may get frozen and wither and die off. All this means is that any flowers it was trying to produce probably won't bloom. New leaves may drop off. The plant will have to start over, getting a slow start for Spring. Spring blooming plants will probably skip the blooming and put their energy into growing leaves and roots instead, and bulbs will just pack it in and go back to sleep until next spring.
There are a few things you can do to help ward off the damage if we do get a freeze... mulch and cover. I believe in mulching, it protects the plants, helps stop weed growth, and it puts nutrients into the soil. If you have leaves or pine branches available, you should use them to mulch the area. As for covering plants, personally I believe that any outdoor plant that can't weather the Wisconsin climate, shouldn't be in my yard. I know, it's cruel, but if the plant dies, it dies. I will call it a lesson learned and when it comes time to plant new plants this spring, I'll put something else there - something that is better suited for the spot.
Covering roses with cones and pines with burlap is a lot of extra work. You have to remove them during the sunny late winter days and then put them back on for the night. I don't do high maintenance in my yard. I don't have the time!
If you have any smaller flowering shrubs in your yard, like pussy willow or forsythia, keep a close watch on the buds. Once it looks like they are about to pop open, clip a few and bring them indoors. Put them in a vase with water and watch the show as they bloom. It's a great way to get in the spring mood! Here's detailed instructions on how to do this from the Stein's February Calendar: Save branches from forsythia, crab apple, magnolias, quince, pussy willows and other flowering trees and shrubs. Use hand pruners to cut branches above a healthy bud or where they are joined to another branch. Place branches in a bucket of water in a cool (60°F), brightly lit location. Mist the branches several times a day and keep the cut ends in water and wait until the stems start to bloom. Flowering stems can be used in arrangements with other flowers or by themselves. Move flowering stems to a cooler location (40°F) at night to prolong bloom.