Late winter, while your deciduous trees are still dormant, is a great time to do some structural pruning. With the leaves gone, it is very easy to see the branch structure and determine which branches should be removed to improve not only the symmetry of the tree but also the overall health of the tree. Remember that pruning affects the entire tree. By assessing the plant as a whole, you can make a better decision as to what to cut to give the best results.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
An organic fertilizer such as Espoma Plant-tone or Holly-tone can be applied to trees and shrubs (and your perennial gardens for that matter) in February or March before growth begins. Remember, these natural organics breakdown gradually and provide a long lasting food reservoir for your plants throughout the growing season. Applying them early will ensure they are available when growth begins. Apply according to the label directions.
Winter Injury - February is a good time to reapply an anti-desiccant such as Bonide Wilt Stop. This will protect your evergreen trees and shrubs (including broadleaf evergreens) from winter kill, wind burn, sun scald, and even de-icer salt damage. Apply according to the label directions.
Insects - February is a good time to spray trees (especially fruit trees) with a dormant oil spray to protect them from many different overwintering insects. Many insects and insect eggs overwinter on the branches of your trees and shrubs. Horticultural oils, such as Bonide All Seasons Horticultural Spray Oil or Bonide Oil and Lime Sulfur Spray, applied during the dormant season effectively smother these insects and the eggs by forming a coating of oil over them. Horticultural oils may also be effective in smothering fungal spores, thus reducing the incidence of certain fungal diseases like rust or powdery mildew.
- Spray these products on a day when temperatures are above 40ºF.
- Wet entire surface of branches, limbs, and trunks. Be sure to cover the underside of the branches where overwintering insects tend to congregate.
Deer - If deer are a problem in your neighborhood, be sure to keep up with a consistent repellent routine. visit our friends at DeerBusters.com for more information and for many other products to keep your trees and shrubs safe from deer and other destructive critters!