Shade cloth

bkay2000(8a TX)January 14, 2014

I have decided to try to delay the emergence of my hosta by using shade cloth over them this winter. (It was 60 yesterday and will be again today.) I have some tan cloth that I can use. How high above the hosta do you think the cloth should be to prevent holding heat? (This is just a make shift situation, so the closer to the hosta I can put it, the less structure I will need to build.)

bk

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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Nurseries use 60% shade cloth and hang it so that you can walk underneath it. But that is likely a convenience for working with the plants. I had a set up for my seedlings last summer using 60% shade cloth that was about 3 feet over the plants. It was also open on the North side of the bed so that I could access the seedlings easily. How hot is it in a Tejas Spring?

Steve

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 1:33PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

Spring goes from 60 to 80, generally, going to 90's by May. Of course, we have cold days, but generally speaking, a few warm days (70's - 80's) start in February and get more frequent into March. Our average last killing freeze date is March 15.

Last year, my hosta came up early, as we had the 80 degree days in January, followed by cold temps in February. So, I'm trying to avoid that happening again. I have no shade until May, as all my trees are deciduous. I'm probably buying trouble, but my hosta were so damaged last year, I'll buy some insurance. (I can use the north side of the house for a few, buy it will not accomodate near all my hosta).

The papers are projecting around 60 all week, so I'm getting nervous.

(I may be like FranknJim with shade cloth hanging off the house.)

bk

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 2:50PM
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Moccasin(z9aMobileAL)

It is very puzzling to me that we still have temps coming in the 20s at night. Last year, my hosta did not do much until almost April, where in 2012 they started pipping in February. I even had my NOID Satisfaction blooming in April. And Stained Glass never went to sleep.

Our last frost date is typically between March 1 and 10. Which is at least 60 days before the Mass. date of May 10.

This year, I have Totally Twisted still going, green as grass, even though it suffered with southern blight last year. I caught it and repotted it at that time, but I am amazed that it was not weakened by the experience. I'm expecting to have another "learning curve" this year, because it just FEELS DIFFERENT.

BKay with you so much further north than we are, I'd be inclined to think you had a colder winter and longer cold spell than us. But it sure doesn't prove to be true.

My shade cloth is 90% and quite heavy stuff. Our rain is a lot more frequent than yours apparently. We have wet winters. It is impossible to keep plants dry in the ground. I'm concerned about my one in-the-ground hosta bed, which catches the rain, and now it is subject to the broken water supply of our neighbors on that side.

If you have a lot of rain this winter, make sure it is high enough (the shade cloth) to allow air circulation. Maybe one end of it up higher than the rest.

This winter it seems not as many squirrels digging in my pots...whether because the pecan crop failed (the summer was too wet) or whether they liked my bird feeders better. And, the two doxie girls kept hot on their trails as well. They make a good hunting pair.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 4:34PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

We that ice storm early in December and that did in any hangers on I had. We also had a few mornings in the upper teens last month.

Last spring was not that different than usual, other than the really warm days in January. I had 1" pips by about Feb. 10 last year. Then we had two or three heavy frosts and/or freezes. Also, Cleo thought the row cover was great fun, so she pulled it off the pots on one of them. It was just a bad spring. I think several of my hosta came back from dormant buds. Most all my hosta were smaller than the year before. Some even reverted to juvenile leaves. With Cleo's rampages on all the new ones in the late summer of 2012 and the bad spring, my hosta really suffered.

I'm working on avoiding those problems this year. I need to move them to shade while they are still fully dormant or provide some shade through February. Cleo has pretty much lost interest in chewing pots and tags, so that helps.

Mine were so bad in 2013, I didn't even do formal photos. I just shot photos of most of them in place. I'm looking forward to getting out the black felt and doing some nice photos like 2012.

I just have to figure out some interim way to get them shaded for the next six weeks.

bk

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 7:39PM
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josephines123 z5 ON Canada

Bk...I really hope you have a great growing year ahead, that the spring weather is kind and that all of your hosta delight you like never before!

I also like your clever idea of the black felt as a backdrop for showcasing the hosta and their flowers. The result is stunning - there is no other distraction when admiring the subject of the photo ... Looking forward to seeing more of your pics in the coming months. Luck with the cover, Bk!

Jo

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 1:41AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

lets run with some stream of consciousness ...

hosta come out of dormancy.. due to soil temps ... shading them will not help ... directly ...

so i guess.. i would be trying to figure out.. how to keep the media/pots cooler..

of course.. one step is shading the pots out of direct sun .... as you are thinking ... ensuring that the shade is not so close as to actually trap heat.. and raise temps ...

one way that comes to mind.. to keep pots cooler.. would be to stick them into ground.. so mother earth would temper media temps ... [sounds easier to build up.. lol ... so perhaps this might be an idea for next year] ... keep in mind.. the difference between soil temps [not pots] and air temps ... though i understand.. that is not that divergent.. down your way.. as compared to up here ...

i dont know how to guide you.. as your climate is so divergent than mine.. other than to offer you some thoughts ...

good luck

ken

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 7:39AM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

I just took some soil temps. My big (abt. 5 gallon) pots are around 45. One small (abt. a quart) pot was 62, another was about 55. (This is the nursery table.) Some of the middle sized pots were about 55. All are sitting in the sun. (These are literal sizes, not nursery sizes). It's about 55 in the shade on my front porch.

I just moved the nursery table to the shade of the garden shed, which should help. Being smaller, they should also get colder at night. The low overnight is running around freezing.

Wonder what the soil temperature has to be to trigger spring growth? Wonder if the day lengths makes any difference? (I ask that, but clearly, last year they came up early despite the day length.)

Now I need to figure out some structure for the shadecloth.

bk

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 2:42PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

40 degrees is the magic number. Once soil temps are over this growth begins. I forgot where I read this.

Steve

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 7:41PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

If that's the number, then it has to vary from place to place. I wouldn't think our soil ever gets that cold. It could get that cold in a pot, but not 3" under ground. At least, I wouldn't think so. I'll stick a probe in the soil today.

bk

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 8:40AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

sooooo .... continuing to theorize ...

you said: the cloth should be to prevent holding heat

but .... your hosta are already coming out of dormancy .. even though you cant see it yet ...

soooo ... you need a frost/freeze cloth ... cold protection ... not a sun shade .. IMHO ... words mean things.. so i am using them to differentiate what direction we should go ....

its too late to stop it.. so we move on with how to protect them ... from cold.. not heat ....

lets see.. cold air is heavy.. it falls.. and pools ... so even if you tarp above.. the cold will get under ...

whats the availability of a garage .... i think the best thing.. would be to put the car outdoors .. and the hosta inside.. until all frost/freeze potential is gone ... whats more important.. the car or the hosta ....

and i would leave the door open.. late into the night.. so it cools off in the garage ... and open during the day ... if that is ok in your 'hood ... we dont want an enclosed structure to go a zone or too higher ... and make them grow even faster.. too early ..... windows open ???

shed or out building.. the same ...

if none of the above ... hmmmmmmm ..... i will have to dwell on this

ken

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 8:52AM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Bkay,

I went looking for confirmation of that 40 degree number and couldn't find it. I forget where I came across this. I'll keep looking, but I'm less sure given that I couldn't easily find confirmation.

Steve

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 12:13PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

The soil temp (about 3 to 4 inches down) on the north side of the shed was 43 today. On the south side of the house, the soil was 49 at the same depth.

Ken, I'm trying to keep them from breaking ground as long as I can. I guess that as long as they are under ground, the freezes won't hurt them.

I found some old photos from 2010, and the hosta weren't coming up until March. It looks like about the same dates in 2012. It looks like the end of March when they are generally really unfurling. I thought they were a month early last year, but I may be mistaken.

Unfortunately, I haven't taken photos of pips very often. Also, there are always those that are early and those that are late. So, my theory that it was an early spring last year may be wrong. Maybe we just had some late freezes.

It's a real bummer when the facts get in the way of theories.

Maybe I should just chill and wait and see what happens. Until last year, I never had a problem with just leaving them where they sit.

bk

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 4:03PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i saw bruce chimed in on one of the posts.. 'you people' ... email him thru his members page... and link him to this post .....maybe he can help ...

i know EXACTLY what you are trying to do.. but i think you are missing my point..

sun.. air temps.. dont matter.. its soil temps.. and you already have lost the battle .... [i agree with steve .. he is close if not correct .... and i dont have a clue either ... i would say some ten year old journal ... you should have bought them all when you had the chance]

so you must move on to figuring out how to protect them.. once they leaf out...

how about some army surplus tents???? ... what about the garage ...????

one thing for sure.. sitting and chillin.. isnt going to protect anything .....

ken

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 4:36PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

You would think that cooler temps would slow it down, though.

bk

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 8:18PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

It's a real bummer when the facts get in the way of theories.

===>>>> yeah.. isnt it.. lol ...

i think.. way back in the day .. robin williams had an ALBUM ... called

reality.. what a concept ... lol ...

i see bruce doesnt allow GW emails ... bummer

ken

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 9:16AM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Don't worry, Bkay. Shade them as best you can and see what happens. Most of those open weave shade cloths allow air to go thru, so it's not like a tarp. We have had a lot of high 60 days, with low 40's nights. It is pretty normal for here and I don't expect to see any hosta noses poking up until late Feb. or early March.

-Babka

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 1:14PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

Thanks, Babka. I think you are right. I just going to shade and hope.

It's too bad I don't have better records from last year. I still believe they came up early. I just can't verify it.

bk

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 4:16PM
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Moccasin(z9aMobileAL)

BK, I have the pictures from last year, and my hosta were LATE pipping. Compared to 2012, they were more than a month behind. However, the only 2012 pictures I have are the ones uploaded to Flickr--the external harddrive with them on it self-destructed. Pictures with the date in the corner have turned out to be my most reliable reference. Not pretty, perhaps, but very accurate.

All I could do here was seek the shade, which kept moving around on me, so I kept moving pots. I started with a lot of shade on the north side of my house, and had hoped to keep some blue hosta in that location until summer arrived, but the shade disappeared by April. That's when I built the cinder block and boards to keep the hosta beneath my 90% shadecloth. However, I failed to install the cloth before some big limbs fell in that secluded spot. This year, I plan to complete that shadecloth project. Even without the shadecloth, they stayed very nicely as long as I made sure the pots drained.

Now I am inclined to create a few more very RAISED BEDS beneath the cloth, making a foundation of mini pine bark, then bark fines. Lowes sells both things in their garden center, although they call the bark fines something else. It will provide the necessary porosity for our high rain area. By spending time with an umbrella during some heavy rain storms, I've noticed the areas where rain either stands or runs, and the spots I need to slope to create a path for runoff. Nothing seems to be simple, does it.

When our remodel project is over and done, then comes the landscaper to remove all the "grass" (actually now WEEDS) and sod the small areas not dedicated to beds or plantings. That will help level the yard and eliminate the low spots.

After that it will be up to us to halt the two doxie girls from their passionate digging. Who knew we had so many MOLES. Just when your Cleo is maturing enough to leave your pots alone, our girls are discovering the ease with which they can dig raised garden beds! And lay in them to cool their little black hides!

But 2014 is another year, and I know I have further lessons to learn about hosta.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 12:25PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

Mocc, you're right. Just when I think I have hosta down, something changes.

bk

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 1:40PM
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