Did an awful job overwintering. Plus advice on Nikko Blue.

yodioMay 1, 2009

Last summer I bought a Limelight and a Lady in Red, the latter despite the misgivings of my MIL, who is a master gardener. In November I tied up the branches with a pair of old nylons, made a chicken wire cage and surrounded it with oak leaves. When I unwrapped it 2 weeks ago it looked like heck. The tips look freeze-dried and the stems like sticks. Now there are leaves growing, although a handful of the taller stems are barren. Could they have died in the winter? There are any number of reasons why my overwintering failed. No burlap around the chicken wire. Didn't put the oak leaves in garbage bags first. Also, there was a light snow the day I wrapped it up, but I had to do it that day as it was going to hard-freeze that night. I did wonder what to do, as everything was damp as I wrapped it. Maybe I created the perfect conditions for the buds to freeze that very night? Anyway, could all you overwintering experts give me advice on how to do it better? And is my LIR going to survive? Limelight looks gorgeous right next to it, and I feel like a fool for going against my MIL's expert advice.

Now that you know what a bad gardener/overwinterer I am, I have a big Nikko Blue (that my MIL gave me, as she declares herself through with them) and can't figure out where to plant it. What's more important? A protected spot, or hours of sun? I have a little protected corner where I could put it, although it's by the sunroom, which isn't heated in the winter, if that makes any difference. It faces S/W, but is hidden under a crabtree and behind a spirea so would receive partial shade. Otherwise I have a spot along the picket fence next to a big Annabelle (morning light) but I doubt it's protected enough, right?

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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Is there enough space for the NB to grow to maturity without cramping the other plants? Remember that it can grow 5x5 or more.

Your winter protection techniques may be ok. Perhaps what happened is that over time, leaves tend to degrade and move around such that a pile of leaves originally 4' may have shrunk, exposing the ends of the stems to winter temperatures and drying winds. Some people keep excess leaves in a pile for use during mid winter; like for when you notice that leaves have settled. You may also want to make sure that the protection extends several inches away from the longest stem. The more, the better (3-6"?). Prune the stems in late June if you notice one or more stems are much larger than the others.

LIR needs winter protection where you live so just try again and check how things are going about once every two weeks or more. If you notice you need to tweak the pile of leaves, you should now have more available from the pile of excess or leftover leaves.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 7:30PM
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Thanks so much for answering Luis, I just now returned to see it. And guess what? I lost a lot of the taller canes, but the plant looks great, lots of leaves and best of all, lots of flower buds! I think you're absolutely right. The tall guys were exposed but the shorter ones survived. I'm so excited!

As for the NB, the spot is big enough, as I'm moving a peony that's there right now. It's just not a lot of direct sun. I did cut back the spirea and prune the crabtree so there's more now than there was. Also, forgot to say there's a hose reel and outdoor shower there. Too much water?

    Bookmark   May 12, 2009 at 8:30AM
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I did not cover or pamper any of my 14 NB.3X3 plants two years in now, just south of Cleveland. Unusually cold and snowy winter, everyone survived fine, maybe deep prolonged snow helped insulate from extreme cold, stem canes frozen dead,but plenty of new growth from the central crowns. Did an experiment with Aluminum sulfate, Espoma brand organic traditions 30% sulfur, and two control plants untreated by anything, to see what effects the chemicals give. Two cups organic per plant, half cup Aluminum sulfate around other treated plants.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2009 at 10:15PM
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