Shrubs, General Care

Caring for shrubs is easy unless you decide to put a shrub in a place where it will outgrow its space. Then you have to prune it back every year to keep it from taking over the space.

Caring for shrubs is easy unless you put it in the wrong place in terms of light. A shrub wanting full sun will not thrive in part shade or worse in full shade. It will always be the plant with the most problems with pest insects and diseases.

Caring for shrubs is easy if you mulch around them with 3 to 4 inches of organic material. Those plants will need little water, no fertilizer after a few years, and will have few or no insect or disease problems.

Do it right and caring for shrubs is easy.




 Can I grow shrubs and/or perennials in a container?


Certainly – just keep in mind that perennials may not bloom the first year, and shrubs may take two or three years to start flowering. Also, if they are being grown in an area where temperatures dip below freezing for extended periods, the pots will have to be moved under cover for the winter; we recommend storing them in a cold but frost free area, in dim light; with occasional attention to watering. Annuals will provide almost instant color, and there is no need to worry about over wintering them, so they are usually a better choice for a container in colder climates.


Protecting Shrubs In Winter

We now have a range of shrub protection products in Yardener's Toolshed; click here

Last week I discussed tree limb breakage from high winds in the winter.  Winds present another serious danger to many landscape plants.  A shrub or small tree that is exposed for more than a short period to high winds will lose its water faster than it can replace it during the winter season. It can actually die of thirst.

 Yes, those woody plants are “dormant” or not actively growing, but they are still transpiring water, however slowly.   

 Plants in a group or up against a wall are much less vulnerable than those sitting out in the middle of yard all by themselves.  Those isolated plants and any shrubs or small trees that were planted last year are candidates for some preventive steps to avoid winter damage from winds. 

The evergreens including the rhododendrons and azaleas, if exposed, can suffer serious winter damage if not protected from the wind.  For the smaller plants, smaller than a peach basket, the easiest technique is to spray those plants with what is called an “antidessicant” or “antitranspirant”.  You spray the entire plant top side and undersides with this product. It forms a plastic-like shield over the leaves while not interfering with respiration, plant growth, or photosynthesis. 

 Its job is to slow down the transpiration or water loss of the plant for a three to four month period in the winter.  When we’ve used it we applied it about now and then again in late February to catch last minute cold windy spells.  A popular brand which I’ve used is called “Wilt Pruf” and is found in all independent garden centers. 

 Twenty or thirty years ago, another common winter protection technique was to surround a vulnerable shrub or small tree with a piece of burlap, attached to stakes set all the way around the plant.  Burlap lets some wind through, allowing the plant to still breath, but protects the plant from serious drying out from high direct winds. 

 Burlap is still found at most garden centers, but now there are some products designed to do the same job and be very easy to install.  Scapeguard Inc.  offers any number of devices ready to assemble in minutes and give small to moderate shrubs a slick little house made of burlap stretched on posts that sits there all winter protecting the plants from winds, snow, and ice (  I’ve tested several models and they kept my young rhododendrons snug and safe all winter. 

  A similar product called The Shrub Coat, is made of UV coated knitted shade cloth and comes in many different sizes and shapes ( I have not had a chance yet to test this line, but it appears to be a reliable device for protecting plants from wind damage. 






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