Spend a little time in your garden now (the drabbest days of winter) and be rewarded with healthy, beautiful blooms and foliage next spring.
Here are specific actions to take today:
#1 Scout for spruce aphids. Spruce aphids attack spruce trees in January and February. You don’t see the results of their damage until June. Here is an image of what you are looking for. If you have spruce trees check for these destructive insects once or twice in the weeks ahead.
#2 Clean up dead leaves around these popular plants.
Dogwoods – including red twig, yellow twig, dwarf Kelsey, and flowering dogwood trees.
Roses – wait to prune the canes until late February
Peonies – If the you haven’t already, now is a fine time to cut the plants back. Leave about 1″ of the stems showing above the ground.
Fruit Trees – Ideally wait until February to do any extensive pruning on the branches. This helps to avoid exposure of new cuts to a frigid cold spell.
Flowering Cherry Trees – upright or weeping forms
When you clean deciduous (plants that naturally lose their leaves each winter) plants we recommend removing any leaves off the branches and raking all foliage off the ground.
On the plants listed here we recommend disposing of the plant debris in the yard waste recycling. These plants often get disease problems during the cool moist springs in our area.
Any disease spores that are infesting these dead leaves need to be removed from your yard. This gives these plants a much better chance of thriving next spring.
This is particularly important if these plants were showing signs of disease this past growing year. The most common problems on these plants are:
Anthracnose on Dogwoods
Black Spot on Roses
Leaf blotch on Peonies
Brown Rot on Cherries
After cleaning up, if you are particularly concerned about disease pressure around the plant, you can elect to put down a new layer of mulch (bark mulch, compost, etc.) to further supress disease spores that may be in the vicinty.