Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Count your Losses, Prepare to Shop

My neighbor's groundcover ivy has some life, not much
Much has been written about the adverse affects on plants following the 2014 November flash freeze event and many more articles are sure to follow.  Let me join in with my outcomes and observations.  First, no need to panic, even though some very important plants may have said bye bye this year.  They are replaceable despite the financial losses to your landscape budget. You'll have fun choosing new plants (the same or something new) and watching them grow and enhance your yard. 

'Limemound' Spirea

Please consider supporting your local independent garden centers this season, they greatly appreciate the business and you'll get way more reliable information from their staff, many have a full time garden expert on hand to assist you. Second, if you're in doubt about whether a plant, tree or shrub is alive, give it a couple more weeks to push new growth or take a finger nail and lightly scratch a stem, if it's alive you'll see green. You can also snap a stem in half - brittle, dry stems are most likely gonners. Obvious dead on evergreen branches require careful pruning (easy to cut off brown tips on yews, but careful on junipers), see fact sheets below for helpful information. 

Again, no need to be hasty on shovel pruning your plants, it's still too early to plant most things. Start shopping and researching on line to get ideas and information on replacement plants.  And if you're concerned about planting the exact same plant that was lost, 'Manhattan' Euonymus, for example, think about the fact that the '14 November freeze was a freak event and may not happen again.  BUT, it's Colorado and gardeners need to expect the unexpected.  Next time it could be a different plant or group of plants that are affected.    

'Nana' Burning Bush
As for my yard, I was surprised to see the 'Nana' Burning Bush shrubs take it so hard, but they are euonymus shrubs and this group saw a lot of damage. One of three shrubs seems to be okay, the other two are pushing new bottom growth, I'm waiting.  Roses, oh dear, not so much my shrubs, but many other gardeners have sung woes about possible losses, they are still holding out for any sign of upper growth from the roots before grabbing the shovel.  Most likely any improperly planted grafted rose (graft not buried or buried deeply enough) didn't make it unless it was heavily mulched or protected. 

Rose 'bud union' or graft should be planted 2-3 inches below ground
Other plants in my yard - 'Green Velvet' boxwood, (a little tip die back, but they are very protected), and cotoneaster - may have lost up to 15 'Coral Beauties', which will be a tough loss, but I'm giving them a bit more time to show life.  Other affected plants that I've heard or read about include weigela, fruit trees, ivy, privet, holly, buckthorn, hibiscus and spirea.  The 'Limemound' spireas shrubs are struggling big time.  I've pruned back upper dead and am hoping the base growth is strong enough to bring them around.

To close on a pleasant note, three 'Mini Man' viburnum shrubs that I planted last summer are doing very well this spring.  They didn't blink an eye after it's leaves were frozen in place last November.  They are blooming now and I'm looking forward to red fruit following the blooms and burgundy fall foliage. BTW...this new cultivar is from Fort Collins Wholesale Nursery (call your local garden center for availability).  It's a dwarf form of 'Manchurian' Viburnum, so size will be 3-6' tall and wide.  I've been told that this outstanding new shrub has been selected as a 2016 Plant Select® plant.

'Mini Man' Viburnum
While considering replacement plants, check out the newly updated Plant Select website.  It's easier than ever to search for plants that are smart choices for your garden, along with new videos with plant stories, design ideas and where to shop to find these plant gems.  

Flowering Herbaceous Plants 
Plant Select
Planting Trees and Shrub Fact Sheets 
Pruning Evergreens 
Pruning Flowering Shrubs 


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