Inspect The Plants and Look for Signs of Damage
This should be a normal late winter to early spring activity no matter what plants you are growing. You will want to look for physical damage to the bark, roots or limbs, as well as mold formations or fungal infections. If you have evergreens; is the foliage still green and healthy looking, or is it brown and burnt looking? From this inspection, you would then need to try and determine if the damage found was from an environmental factor or from a pest. Identifying pest damages on plants can often be tough, but is imperative in planning for any measure of control or in the recovery of the plant.
Prune As Needed
Once your plants have gone dormant they typically are ready to prune. Certain plants need to be pruned after their spring bloom period so that you do not remove all of your flower buds and lose your spring color. Do a little research on your plants to be sure of the timing to prune. Pruning can help to ensure healthy plants with a strong branch structure. It can also be done to improve sight lines for safety, keeping branches from rubbing against your home, maintaining natural or an ornamental shape (which ever you prefer), plus this helps to train any new plants growth patterns.
Because we typically have turf growing around our trees and do not allow the trees to mulch themselves (composting of fallen leaves, stems and fruit or nuts), we need to provide a layer of mulch to help preserve soil moisture around the root zone and add nutrients to the soil over time. Mulch can also help to keep some pests at bay. There are a variety of mulch sources out there so be sure to look into the options, paying attention to color, texture, particle size, and expected longevity.
Fertilize Your Landscape Plants
It’s not too late to fertilize, however we do prefer to fertilize most ornamental landscape plants in the fall of the year. Again, plant species vary and often a spring fertilizing might be ideal if the plants have not been fertilized in the past. Fertilizing the root system of your plants with a slow-release material can help ensure good health, growth and color through the season. Making sure you have a good material and process for your specific plants is very important. Again, do your research. Every plant is different.
Water if Needed
If we happen to have a long dry spell, watering your trees and shrubs may be needed even if they are still in their winter dormancy. The root system is still working and although the growth and activities have slowed, the plants still need moisture this time of year. Three and four-week droughts are not typical in Missouri over the winter, but we certainly have had them.
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