Protecting Trees & Shrubs During the Drought - "Dr. Z's" Tip of the Week

Our weather during the second half of summer and early fall has been dominated by two features; hot temperatures and lack of significant rainfall.  The whole state is experiencing abnormally dry conditions, and in some areas a moderate drought.  Reservoirs are getting low.  Since this will obviously have an impact on our garden plantings, there are some steps that can be taken to help them survive.
If you are allowed to, deeply water your most important plantings, especially any newly planted trees or shrubs.  First year plantings are the most vulnerable and can quickly succumb to hot and dry conditions.  These plants should have the priority when watering.   It is also very important to give shrubs a good watering just before the ground freezes in the late fall or early winter.  This will give them a reserve to work off of during the long cold winter when it is hard for plants to take in water.
It always a good idea to spray an anti-desiccant on these plants before winter sets in,  but it is a necessity to do so in a drought year.  All plants give off water through out the year.  This can cause a serious situation in the winter where moisture is locked up (frozen) in the soil and cold, dry winds blowing over a shrub increase the transpiration (water loss) rate.  Spraying with an anti-desiccant like Wilt-Pruf seals the pores through which moisture leaves the plant.  This is vital for evergreens, especially so for broad leaf evergreens.  Spray Wilt-Pruf  on a day in November when the temperature is above 45 degrees and hopefully will not go below freezing that night, and again on the same kind of day in late January.  In areas that are exposed to a lot of wind you may have to erect a burlap wind break.
At this point in time it is not recommended to do any feeding as this may push out more growth which is tender and will not have enough time to harden off before cold temperatures arrive.  If dormant feeding is attempted later on, use an organic fertilizer as this will not burn the plant.

As always, please call me or stop in if you have specific questions about your trees, shrubs or garden.

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