In the Garden:
Inland Northwest, High Desert
Snow on the perennial garden is a natural mulch and provides insulation for winter.
Mulching for Winter
It wasn't yet time to mulch the garden for the winter - with our usually balmy November, I normally wait until December to mulch roses and perennials. But Mother Nature recently threw us a curve ball and dropped a little "natural insulation" on our landscape. The snow may not stay though, so I'll be mulching anyway.
Many tender perennials and roses need extra protection in our climate to survive winter. However, daylilies have their own built-in insulation. Hemerocallis use their foliage as a cloak to protect their crowns, where the new growth will arise next spring. The temptation is to remove the dead foliage, but instead I add more bark chips on the plant after I've finished mulching the roses.
In very early spring I'll cut back the brown leaves of last year's plants and then wait for warmer days. Just about the time the daffodils have finished blooming and I wish something could be done sooner with their old leaves, the daylilies spring up to hide the daffodil mess.
Roses are a different story. I mulch plants with a 1- to 2- foot-deep layer of bark chips. This will protect the graft union (the bulge in the main cane above the soil line) from the severe winter cold. Even if the canes above the mulch pile are exposed and die in winter, the new growth will still come from this graft union area.
Since the snow has started early, I better get out there now and put the finishing touches on another growing season.
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