2011-01 Ready, Set, Grow
Continued from the January 2011 Greenleaf Bulletin
Ready, Set, Grow
by Judy Tolbert
I am sure that quite a few of us experienced the loss of one or several plants and shrubs during the recent cold snap here in Arizona. Gardening in the Southwest can be very rewarding, but, as in every part of the country, we do have times when we become frustrated with nature. My losses usually include a forgotten plant or pot somewhere in the garden that wasn’t covered, waking up to find a slimy limp mess, and sadly realizing it is a total loss. Even hardy plants show signs of frost burn at the tips or even further in and we are so tempted to get out the pruners and loppers to trim off the ugly and make way for new growth. Unfortunately, that is the worst possible solution. New growth should not be encouraged until all danger of frost is over. The next frost or freeze, and that can be anytime until mid to late February in the low desert and much later in other areas of Arizona, will zap that vulnerable new growth and possibly the whole plant so leave the dead ugly stuff where it is until mid February at the earliest. Another common mistake is assuming a plant is dead when we have a frost or freeze. Most desert adapted shrubs will die back in the winter after experiencing frost but will quickly resume growth when the weather warms up. Our northern members wouldn’t have a garden at all if they pulled out every plant that died back after a freeze. And what is more exciting than seeing a tiny bit of green where last year’s favorite was located. A very good tip for the low desert is to water deeply before the frost or freeze as hydrated plants have a much better chance of surviving the cold.
My suggestion is if you have to prune something, get to the MCC Rose Garden and prune some of their thousands of roses on Saturday mornings. They are there every Saturday beginning at 8AM from now until mid February. Roses love to be pruned in the winter in the low desert. For our members in cold climates, just make a cup of hot chocolate and plan you spring garden.