Newsletter Winter

Hot Gardens Newsletter: Winter 2007

Previous newsletters by month and topic 

   Zero Palms.  If the recent freezing weather has turned the fronds on your palm trees brown, your palms may have been damaged or destroyed.  But do NOT remove these trees immediately nor cut off the seemingly dead fronds.  Dry, brown fronds do not necessarily mean that your palm is a total loss.   New fronds grow from the heart of the palm which is located within the top of the trunk.  If this inner part has not been damaged by the cold, your palm may come to life again and grow new fronds in Spring.  And with the cost of palms these days, it is wise to wait and see.  In the meantime, continue to treat your palms — and all other trees and plants — as if they are thriving; water them periodically.

Washingtonia california fan palmThe California fan palms (Washingtonia filifera and W. robusta), left, as natives of the Southwest, are the most likely survivors of our Artic cold snap.

The Mediterranean fan palm, (Chamaerops humilis) may also be a survivor.  After all, it snows sometimes in Athens, Greece where this palm is a native.

Our favorite, the fast-growing Queen palm (Syragrus romanzoffianum), may very well be a victim of the severe temperatures. These graceful palms. especially young ones, are not at all cold hardy.

If you discover you will have to plant new palms, wait until the soil heats up. Palm trees love warm earth around their roots. For more about weather-proofing palm trees, go here.

Frozen Shrubs and Succulents. If other shrubs in your garden appear to have been damaged by the cold, again we suggest that you wait and see. Some plants, particularly those native to areas where wildfire is part of the natural cycle, can be destroyed right down to the root ball and grow right back again. On the other hand, frozen succulents will turn to mush so you might as well clean up the mess now.

Winter Roses.  Usually this is a good time of year to buy bare root roses. If you decide to buy now, perhaps it would be prudent to wait a few weeks before planting. We actually prefer to select roses in Spring because the plants are often in bloom and we can determine if the rose actually matches the name on the tag. We have had some surprises with bare root roses.

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To Prune Roses or Not. A friend of ours conducted an accidental experiment last year with her roses. They did not seem to be going dormant so she delayed pruning them. Eventually, half were cut back, half were not. She reports that the only difference she noticed when they began to grow and bloom is that the unpruned ones were slightly less tidy. So if you do not cut back your roses this winter, you will still have flowers later. We would like to thank Rose D. for telling us about her rose garden.

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