The Gardener’s Dirt December 2007
|North Carolina State University
College of Agriculture and Live Sciences
North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service
Johnston County Center
2736 NC 210 Highway * Smithfield, NC 27577
In this Issue
This newsletter offers timely information for your outdoor living spaces.
Addressing the most common questions ranging from container gardening,
tree pruning, wildlife management, to fire ant control, insect
identification and lawn establishment.
It’s the Holiday Season and plants are a favorite gift item. They arrive looking fresh and beautiful and all too often end up bedraggled or even dead. Let’s look at a few of these holiday offerings and how to keep them looking good.
With just a little care, all these beautiful holiday plants will continue to delight for years to come.
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What to do When a Pesky Ice Storm Threatens Plants
Steps to take to repair a damaged limb
| If an ice storm is forecast, protect foundation plantings and small
conifers in the yard by covering them with a plastic tarp or wrapping
them with twine, burlap, or blankets.
If a plant does become ice-encrusted, allow natural thawing to
remove the weight of the ice. Do not hit the branches with a broom or
stick as the rigidity added by the ice makes branches brittle and often
results in greater breakage.
Plants that arch or bow under the weight of ice usually straighten themselves during the spring growing season.
Should the ice result in a broken branch, proper branch stub
pruning is key to recovering the plant. Cut stubs back, but not
into the branch collar. The branch collar is the raised area at where
the branch and main stem meet.
If the top of a tree has broken, cut back to the first undamaged
branch or whorl of branches. Make the cut at a 45 degree angle to
prevent water from pooling in the plant. Be patient, it may take
several years for full recovery.
Broken limbs often tear and strip bark. Avoid disease and insect
invasion by repairing bark. Use a sharp knife or chisel to round the
jagged edges of the dying bark. Remove loose bark to the point where
it is attached to main branch or stem. Keep the wound as small as
possible to help the tree heal quickly.
A certified arborist can assist in deciding whether or not a storm-damaged tree can be saved.
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➢ Learn exactly what your soil needs by taking a soil sample and
having it tested. Most plant health problems start in the soil. A
healthy soil will mean less pest and disease problems.
➢ If it hasn’t been done already fertilize cool-season lawns such as
fescue. Roots of cool-season grasses continue to grow whenever the
ground is not frozen.
➢ Cool-season weeds in established cool-season or dormant Zoysia or
Bermudagrass lawns may be treated with broadleaf herbicides
TREES, SHRUBS & ORNAMENTALS
➢ Prune evergreens to use for winter decorations in the house by
cutting out unwanted limbs that would be pruned in February anyway.
(Save major pruning for late winter.) Holly, Magnolia, Cedar, and
Nandina foliage will last a long time.
➢ Many landscape shrubs can be propagated from hardwood cuttings including American holly and junipers Juniper.
➢ Prevent winter damage to plants from dessication (drying),
freezing and thawing, and breakage from ice and snow loads. Keep plants
watered during dry periods. Read 'How to Protect Plants from Cold
Damage' at https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-604.html
➢ This is an excellent time to mulch shrubs, trees, perennials, and
herbs for winter protection. Apply a layer 3" deep since most
perennials are dormant and it's easy to get a wheelbarrow into the
garden. Mulch comparisons
and general info: https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-608.html
➢ Weed out "weed" trees and shrubs. Prolifically-seeding plants like
oak, elm, mimosa Mimosa Tree, hackberry, plum, and ligustrum (privet)
produce numerous offspring which compete with other landscape plants
for light, water and nutrients. Weedy woody seedlings are easier to
remove while still young.
➢ Need help selecting and caring for your holiday tree? Check out Holiday Tree Selection and Care
➢ Put your cut Holiday tree to use! Cut the branches and lay them
over perennials to protect them from the cold. Shred small branches to
➢ Do NOT prune fruit trees now. Fruit trees are best pruned late winter just before they start to grow in spring.
➢ Asparagus crowns can be planted now through March.
➢ Giving gifts? Consider giving a good gardening book or accessory! Gardening is a gift all year round.
➢ Build raised beds now for plant next spring. Find out why and how at:
➢ Clean bird feeders monthly with hot sudsy water and diluted bleach
to prevent the spread of wild bird diseases. Keep seed hulls from
accumulating underneath the feeder to discourage rodents.
➢ Check holiday and gift plants for insects before locating them near other plants.
HELPING PEOPLE PUT KNOWLEDGE TO WORK.
Got Questions? We've got answers!
If you have a gardening issue you would like to see addressed in this
The Johnston County Master Gardener Volunteers are available Monday,
|Past Newsletters||Johnston County Lawn and Garden|