Pruning/Defoliating Plants for Winter Storage
I just read some interesting info over on the Citrus Forum about defoliating citrus trees during the winter. My concern was that my large, leafy trees would impede air flow in the GH over the Winter months and lead to mold and mildew. One of the other posters mentioned that he had visited a commercial GH and the gardeners there kept the citrus trees' leaves plucked all Winter to encourage lush Spring growth. The pics showed that the citrus trees had also been pruned quite a bit. Then the poster mentioned that he also strips the leaves off his plumeria for the same reason.
Maybe I'm behind the times and everyone else in the world knows this stuff, but this was a revelation to me. What a great idea to conserve space, facilitate air flow, and encourage healthy Spring growth. With six citrus trees, over 25 brugs, two large plumerias and a zillion other medium and small plants, my 10x12' GH was packed to the gills last Winter. First came the aphids and whiteflies. The mildew developed overnight and covered every surface. What a nightmare!
This past Spring it was a full weekends work to clean out the GH, air out the plants and remove all the damaged foliage and repot everything that had continued to grow despite my lousy management of their Winter home. This year will be my SECOND Winter with this GH.
So I installed a misting system to control the moisture level automatically. I also installed three fans, one large stationary fan and two smaller oscillating fans to keep the air moving. The heater has been set to the proper temps and should kick on only often enough to keep it warm enough for the plumies. Got grow lights on a timer for the baby plants. Vents set to open on warm Winter days. Getting to know my GH has been a journey.