Ecosystems rely on winter snowfall as a crucial part of their yearly water supply, particularly in the west. However, when the weather seems a bit uncooperative in the precipitation department, and there are higher than normal daytime temperatures—producing more rapid transpiration— your garden may be in need of some healthy winter watering.
So what is healthy winter watering? Remember these basic tips:
With dry weather, once a month winter watering is suggested. If the dry weather continues, you may need to go to twice monthly watering. Keep an eye on the skies.
Water only when the air temperature is above freezing. You'll want to apply water early in the day so that it will have time to soak in before nighttime freezing. If water stands around the base of a tree it can freeze and damage the bark. Heavy coatings of ice on turfgrasses can cause suffocation or result in matting of the grass.
Lawn grasses are prone to winter damage-especially newly planted lawns, both sod and seeded. Pay particular attention to turf on southern exposures.
As a rule of thumb, evergreen trees need more water than deciduous ones. Any plant with shallow root systems, such as pine, spruce, non-native juniper, Euonymous and Oregon grape will be more susceptible to winter damage.
When watering woody plants that have been planted in the last two seasons, the most important area to water is the distance from halfway between the plant and the outer stretch of the branches to approximately one foot beyond the "drip line" of branch extremities. This also prevents water from building up near the trunk of the plant.
The purpose of winter watering is not to provide water for the plant to draw up its stem—rather, to provide water to prevent the roots from desiccating in the cold dry ground. It can be hard to remember to water when you don't have a wilting plant as a visual clue. Write a reminder every three weeks on your calendar.
Remember to water newly planted bulbs as well. By nature, a bulb stores a lot of water, which aids in its production of spring blooms. Bulbs left unwatered over the winter will not have the ability to sprout in the spring.
With winter watering during dry conditions, your plants will amply reward you for your kindness come springtime.
'Blut' is one of the very best cold hardy Ice Plants. With its vigorous growth habit, durable evergreen foliage and summer-long display of deep magenta-red flowers, it is an invaluable groundcover. Drought resistant/drought tolerant plant (xeric).
Perovskia atriplicifolia Blue Spires (Blue Spires Russian Sage) is the best large growing Russian Sage selection blooming with dark blue flower spikes appearing in mid-summer. Thought to be a hybrid of two species, this plant has amazing vigor and blooms for many months.
Salvia sylvestris ‘May Night’ (May Night Sage) blooms prolifically with deep purple-blue flowers. It is an outstanding perennial with excellent cold hardiness, vigor, and tolerance of heavy clay soils. Blooming in late spring with a profusion of flower spikes, it reblooms later in the summer when deadheaded.
Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass (Bouteloua gracilis Blonde Ambition PP#22,048) is a native ornamental grass with a completely new look. The horizontal eyelash-like chartreuse flowers appear in mid-summer and age to blonde seed heads by fall. They are held on the plant right through the winter to provide many months of interest. 2011 Plant of The Year
Pink Creeping Thyme is an outstanding selection with glossy, dark green leaves covered with light pink flowers pushing form rose-pink buds in early summer. This variety is impressively xeric, with tough woody stems. Drought resistant/drought tolerant plant (xeric).
This Butterfly Paradise Pre-Planned Cottage Garden creates a high impact cottage-garden look with masses of beautiful flowering plants. The bold groupings please with color, flower form, and foliage. Late spring to late summer bloom times.
This Cottage Garden is available in two sizes. The large size includes a total of 30 plants, covering an area of 8 ft. x 12 ft. (90 sq. ft); the small size includes 16 plants, covering an area of 8 ft. x 5 ft. (40 sq. ft). Includes premium plants, planting map and care guide.
Hardy Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) is one of the most versatile groundcovers for cold climates growing in both sun and shade and most soil types. Plumbago blooms in late summer with deep blue flowers followed by the foliage that turns burgundy red in fall.