While I was watching the weather today, I see the next 10 days have temperatures in the high 60’s and even 70’s. Did mother nature forget it is November?
I thought I would dig deeper into what affect these later hot temperatures would have on trees and plants in general.
According to National Geographic, global climate change is disrupting fall foliage. They state, from 2014 to 2021, the Northern Hemisphere experienced its eight warmest Octobers on record. And the Northeast, which is most famous for fall foliage's, is warming faster than the rest of North America.
Extreme weather conditions, amounts of precipitation and insect infestations also are contributing to the change. As growth cycles are interrupted, uncertainty of viability of different species to thrive in their native habitat may change. Plants need to prepare for winter. If they have early fall coloration and early leaf drop, they may not be able to absorb their final nutrients to carry them through winter. This could open up the window to harm the plants if a sudden freeze happens. This could affect growth and ultimately the life span of the tree. The biggest fear is as climate change affects trees and their health deteriorates, the trees may not be able to absorb carbon dioxide from emissions. And that’s not good for anybody.
When those freezing temperatures do decide to arrive, here are 11 things to do now before, dare I say it, the snow flies.
1) Now's the time to plant spring blooming bulbs in the landscape. Daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and more are a welcome surprise when warm weather begins to arrive in the spring. A handful of bone meal or bulb food added to the soil when planting bulbs will give them a burst of food to enhance the flowering next spring. Just dig, drop and your done! Think and plan for spring now.
2) Clean leaves up in and around roses to remove any possibility of diseased leaves staying over winter and causing black spot next year. If you were the unfortunate benefactor of having tar spots on your maple tree leaves, these leaves need to be disposed of as well. DO NOT COMPOST THEM!
3) Yellowing herbaceous perennials should be trimmed back now. As leaves deteriorate, the removal is important to maintaining overall vigor of the plant. A light coating of compost on the top of the exposed crowns of the perennials will be beneficial as well to help with the freeze, thaw cycle over the winter. This added insulation helps keep your plants from dying.
4) As cold weather arrives, be sure to keep your bird feeders full of seed. Local birds will appreciate a free meal. Keep in mind, birds love berries from holly, winter berries, crab apples, beauty berry and many other shrubs. You may want to snip some now for winter decorations and keep in a sheltered area before they disappear.
5) Now's the time to plant autumn garlic. Add some compost or cow manure to the bed before planting. Break apart cloves and plant each clove 3" deep and 3" apart. Garlic is fun to grow and fresh garlic for cooking is the best!!
6) Trim fruit trees now through mid-March when temperatures are above freezing. Tidy up strawberries by removing dead leaves and cutting back runners. Thin raspberries by removing 1/3 of the old canes.
7) If you have not aerated your lawn, do so now. Aerating your lawn pulls plugs out of the ground and allows water, fertilizer and insecticides to reach roots easily. If you dig out a plug of your lawn and find you have an inch of dead matter between the roots and blades of grass, you should aerate your lawn. As cold arrives start to reduce the height of your lawn mower and shorten your grass in preparation for winter.
8) Continue to rake and discard leaves as they fall. If you have the ability to shred them or mow them and bag them, do so before adding them to your compost bin. If they are diseased, get rid of them!
9) Install pond netting over your garden ponds to stop leaves from floating and eventually sinking to the bottom of the pond causing problems down the road. If you have fish 5-6" long, be sure you add a water aerator which pumps bubbles into your pond for the winter. Fish this size and larger need constant oxygen when pumps are shut down for winter.
10) If you need to move a shrub or tree, now through March is the safest time to do so. Cold weather shuts down plants and puts them into a dormant state. Digging and moving them to new locations when dormancy sets in offers a greater success rate.
11) When a hard killing freeze occurs, spray your broadleaf evergreens such as rhododendrons and azaleas with wilt pruf or wilt stop. This spray surrounds the leaves with an invisible coating which helps to prevent transpiration of leaves from cold dry winter winds causing leaf burn. An ounce of prevention now will pay huge dividends in spring from a possible horrific winter.