Winter-ready your garden

Winter-ready your garden

Areca palm

Amarjeet Singh Batth

Falling temperatures during peak winter is the time when garden activities get heated up. From the annual application of manure, pruning and upkeep of trees, to maintenance of annuals and caring for exotic beauties, there’s lots to do in your garden. This is also the time to review the garden’s features, and accordingly relocate your plants, besides taking other corrective measures.

Get on with hard pruning

Well shaped trees, shrubs and climbers embellish the garden. Pruning, which is a round-the-year operation, involves removal of dead wood, broken branches, disease-affected parts and obstruction-causing branches. In winter, when the plants shed leaves, their structure becomes visible. This is the time to go for hard pruning. Young plants require selective pruning for structural soundness with a strong single leader along evenly spaced branches. Stable, U-shaped or wide-angle branches are retained while weak or V-shape and narrow-angle branches are removed. Eliminate double leaders, those which are too close or rub against each other. Do not prune more than one-fourth of the crown. Live branches should constitute at least two-third of the height of the tree.

Annual application of manure

Plants must be given an annual application of farmyard manure in December. Use well-rotten manure only for trees, shrubs and climbers. Pot plants must be recharged with a fresh dose of manure. Also, winter gives ample ingredients to make leaf mould — garden sweepings, dry foliage and wood material can be decomposed with layers of soil mixed with a little urea for speedy decomposition.

Upkeep of annuals

The seedlings of winter annuals, which were planted in October, get fully established to withstand the cold. However, these still need protection from the frost, which can be done by covering these with polythene or ‘sarkanda’. Keep the soil moist and do not overwater or let the water stand in the flowerbeds or pots. Regular weeding, hoeing and fortnightly application of fertiliser and manure (vermin-compost) should be done. Do pinching for dense flowering and staking for tall plants as required by the flower type.

Extra care for exotic beauties

Many plants were not native to our country but because of their beautiful foliage, these exotic plants have become popular with garden lovers. These grow well when the climate is moderate but once the temperature drops, these need protection. Here are some tips to take care of the exotic beauties in your garden:

  • Areca, chlamandorea and raphis palm have adapted to the local climate but these need to be covered and protected from the frost. Keep the soil moist but do not overwater. Excess watering can cause the root to rot.
  • Aglaonema or Chinese evergreens, when planted outdoors, require artificial cover as the cold can damage the foliage. Go for light misting in the evening. The ones planted in pots need to be carried under tree shade or kept in a verandah with enough indirect sunlight.
  • Dieffenbachia performs well under filtered or indirect sunlight. It is generally grown in pots, which must be shifted under naturalor artificial cover. Keep the soil moist. 
  • Drascena, planted under indirect bright sunlight, needs cover protection during winter. Carry the pots to a top covered location and reduce irrigation.
  • Croton flourishes with good sunlight and winter cover. In younger plants, winter chill and low sunlight fade the colour of the leaves, and even makes the leaves fall. However, as the plant matures, this effect is diminished. In winter, reduce watering and allow the top soil to become dry between irrigation.
  • Schefflera flourishes under indirect filtered sunlight but as winter intensifies, low light and cold prevail on it. Leaves turn yellow and fall due to overwatering. Wrinkled leaves may indicate under-watering.
  • Syngonium is a bushy plant with arrow-shaped leaves. In winter, adequate sunlight, misting of leaves, top cover and reduced watering help the plant survive better.

Likewise, exotic plant varieties like alocasia, alpina, asparagus, brassia, ferns, oxalis, oster, aclifa, coleus, ixora, peace lily and philodendrum need winter cover and less irrigation. Cleaning of leaves, misting in evening, pot rotation and sun exposure once fortnightly is required.

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