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watering in winter?

Posted by zachslc 5/6 (My Page) on
Sun, Jan 7, 07 at 16:26

Do you water your perennials in the winter? When I read a lot of western/low-water/xeriscape gardening boks and magazines I get the impression that one should, but a lot of these magazines and books seem to be targeted more toward climates with less snow. Anyone?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: watering in winter?

I've never watered in winter, even if it is a dry winter.

RE: watering in winter?

Mother nature does the watering for us... in the form of that white stuff all over my yard.
If ya don't have any and would like some, I would be glad to box some up from my kids "ski jump" & send it to ya! :-)

Most plants are "smart" enough to go dormant during the winter.
It is kind of like trying to give water to a person that is asleep... They just don't need it.... but if they do, mother nature is usually kind enough to leave a glass or two of ice water near the bed.

They have enough energy stored to get them through winter AND to burst forth in the spring.

I think that the article you were reading is for more tropical zones like the lower part of Florida. In Southern CA, the watering in the winter comes from Mother Nature.

RE: watering in winter?

Well, I've ready in several places that one of the dangers of cold winters is that the ground might get too dry while its frozen. I just like to make sure my soil is moist in October and November before the snow comes and the ground freezes.

If we had a really dry winter, I would get the hose out and take care of some recent plantings or very young trees and shrubs. This is especially important for evergreen trees and shrubs that are still photosynthesizing during winter.

A few weeks ago, I did get out a rake and broom and move some of the snow from my grass to the base of my rose hedge that's next to the lawn. I piled it up around the base of the roses for two reasons: to make it less likely their roots will thaw and then freeze again (which is the main winter killer of plants), and to make sure they have enough moisture if that snow gets a chance to melt.

RE: watering in winter?

I know this thread is out of date, HOWEVER... I am a nursery professional and I know most people in Utah do not water in the winter months. Most people do not want to deal with the garden in the winter months. Nor do they want to drag a hose to deep soak their plants in the dry winter months. This is completely understandable.
Now lets look at the climate here in Utah. We are in the high desert in most of the Wasatch Front area. The reason that most plants survive, and thrive here is that we irrigate. Without irrigation most plants will not survive here in Utah with the dry conditions and the heat in the summer and the cold dry winters. As we transition from late summer into fall the cooler temperatures keep the water that we irrigate with from evaporating as fast as it did during the scorching summer months, and the plants use less water, due to slower metabolic rates within the plant. This means less watering. Then sometime in September or October if you have secondary water, the city shuts it off. No more watering 'til spring. Yay!
But consider... Most of the returns we get on plants in the spring are from winter dehydration. The hardest hit are evergreens, especially broad-leaf evergreens. Lawns, perennials, shrubs, and deciduous trees also may sustain dehydration damage. The past winter (2011-2012) was much drier than normal, and additionally it had high winds for day after day. This coupled with no snowfall kept our ground free from snow and allowed the wind to wick the moisture out of the soil as well, causing even higher than normal losses due to dehydration. I could go on and on, but I desist.
With the experience of years of nursery and home gardening of both me and my fellow professionals to draw from, I recommend this: WATER IN THE WINTER!! If there has not been precipitation for more than a couple weeks, drag your hose out and water. You will lose fewer plants and will find that the plants that survive the winter will be much more vigorous and healthy when they are not drought stressed from a long frigid winter with no moisture. If in doubt, call your local nursery professionals.

Here is a link that might be useful: A link to wyoming extension, colorado extension

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