Experts: time to assess winter damage to plants

YARMOUTH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Cindy Williams spent time at Estabrook's Garden Center Thursday to ask about tips and tricks to assess and repair winter damage to plants and gardens in Maine.

There is no doubt that it has been a rough winter across the state.

"There is some plant that is damaged in every homeowner's yard, but we need to be patient with all of the plants that are damaged," Tom Estabrook said. "Stems are sometimes, even if the plant appears to be dead."

Estabrook said the best way to tell if a plant will recover is to scrape a branch and see if there is a green layer underneath the initial layer of the bark.

"If there's actually green under the bark, that means it's still alive," Estabrook said. "Not to say that some of the branches won't die, but it means the actual plant is still alive."

Estabrook said the best way to help plants recover is to start watering them as soon as possible.

"It's now a good time to fertilize, at this point in the spring," Estabrook said.

There is also other suggested protocol for specific plants, like rose bushes. Estabrook said rose bushes should be pruned.

"Prune off any of the branches that are kind of dead or dying," Estabrook said. "Some of the growth coming from the bottom of the rose bushes should just be shaped."

Spruce trees are another common accent in yards here in Maine. Brown spots that show up after the winter are actually wind burn.

"Once you see small buds forming around the brown spots, wait a week or ten days, and the brown spots will just disappear," Estabrook said. "The best advice is just to be patient. The spots will go away on spruce trees by themselves."

In addition to rose bushes and spruce trees, Estabrook also offered tips on hydrangeas.

"Hydrangeas should not be cut, or pruned, or even touched, until mid-June," Estabrook said. "I know some of the branches on hydrangeas are dead, but that's okay. I like to use the dead branches as stakes later on in the season."

Any plant that is rehabbed for spring should be dressed with fresh mulch and fresh water. Estabrook recommended Holly Tone as a fertilizer for soil in Maine.


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