DALLAS MORNING NEWS – MARCH 6, 2019
New Growth in the Spring
Spring flowers are pretty and most everyone enjoys the show – but there’s something else to watch for and enjoy in the plant world. The delicate new foliage of many plants is as beautiful as spring flowers and fall color. Almost all plants have interesting new spring foliage, but some are better than others. The most attractive in the early spring tend to be the plants that are completely bare in winter so the new growth has no visual competition from old foliage.
Japanese maple trees are stars of this kind of show and the variety of colors, shapes and sizes that the small maples have ranges widely. Enjoy the show outside on the trees in the gardens or bring some cuttings inside to enjoy in containers with water. Some of my favorites, besides the Japanese maples, to keep an eye on include, escarpment black cherry, buckeyes, Lacey oak, Chinese photinia and Drummond red maple. There are many others that show off in their ways.
Budding too early?
Related to this pleasant horticultural event, there are some concerns some years, including this year, about flowering and new growth happening too early. What can be done to protect against late freezes damaging the plants? The good news is that except for the potential damage to fruit crops, little long-term damage is done to most plants that get frozen after prematurely starting to grow. The burned foliage will fall off and new growth emerges.
One rather heroic thing that can help prevent damage is to literally cover the plants with floating row cover. It’s too much trouble for me in most cases, but will give plants that have jumped the gun about 3-5 degrees of frost protection.
Buds begin to form in spring on the Escarpment black cherry tree
Also the organic program itself can provide as much as 3-5 degrees extra hardiness. How does that happen? Well – when the soil is alive and healthy with biological activity, major nutrients and trace minerals are more available to plants. That helps the plants produce complex carbohydrates (sugars) that are important to the biological systems within plants. That makes plants tougher and hardier. These sugars act as antifreeze to the plants. It also helps food crops taste better.
Foliar feeding on a year-round basis also helps. Foliar feeding with one of the compost tea-based liquid products or the Garrett Juice mixture on a monthly or at least quarterly basis will boost the hardiness of plants against various environmental pressures, not just freeze damage. Foliar feeding should not replace the organic feeding of the soil but simply be an expansion of it. Foliar feeding only will make the roots lazy – and we certainly don’t want lazy plants.
Red leaves indicate new spring growth on the lacey oak
Chinese photinia new growth
Dwarf Japanese maple new growth
Green Japanese maple - new growth
Drummond maple spring growth
Scarlet buckeye new spring growth
Scarlet buckeye - blossoms