Commentary

Tips For Winter

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Garden Clock

by Pauline Keegan

Is it all right to transplant perennials in winter? Do I have to worry about a sudden drop to freezing temperatures right after transplanting?
Perennials, in the dormant state, can be transplanted anytime the ground is workable. The ground temperature does not change as rapidly as the air temperature. A sudden drop in air temperature is not likely to hurt the roots, which are the important part of a perennial. A general rule is to transplant spring-flowering perennials in the fall and fall-flowering perennials in the spring. This gives the roots time to settle before the plant is called upon to bloom. How late in the fall or how early in the spring is debatable. Water is a factor. Taking advantage of the spring or fall rain is a good idea. If you do transplant in the winter, be sure to water deeply.

Is there a way to store seeds over the winter?
The enemy of seeds is moisture. Keep seeds in a cool, dry place. A tightly closed jar placed in the refrigerator is one option if you have room in your refrigerator. Most varieties of seeds will keep their viability for a year at room temperature as long as they are kept dry. Keep in mind that if your seeds are from a plant that is a hybrid it will produce plants with less vigor and fewer characteristics of the hybrid flower.

Why did my Crape Myrtle not bloom this summer?
When Crape Myrtle doesn’t bloom, the reason is almost always insufficient light. Another possible cause is too much fertilizer, especially nitrogen. The requirements for Crape Myrtle are few, but definitely full sun and good air circulation.

Tip: To make cut flowers last longer, try a solution of two ounces of Listerine mouthwash to a gallon of water. Listerine contains, among other things, sucrose and a bactericide.

This is the last Garden Clock column for the year. The Garden Clock will be dormant during the winter months. It’s time to prepare holiday goodies and dream of those fresh grown vegetables. Spring will be here in no time. In the meantime, if you have any questions, send a letter to the Washington County Master Gardeners, 2536 N. McConnell Ave., Fayetteville 72704, or call (479) 444-1755.

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