As I sit in cold Portland, nursing a little cold and waiting for things to bust out again in my trade, I find myself reflecting on gardens and the myriad small chores which can be so helpful in these cold months.
In Reno, for example, supposedly dormant plants and trees are often not considered needing much help in their wait for Spring. In truth, however, nothing could be farther from the reality. Because of the lack of humidity and the sparse precipitation, it turns out many plants die from a lack of water during this time. Plants may not seem to need much. I mean, they sure don’t reflect much need during this time, do they, with their apprently blissful dormancy? Unfortunately, what often happens is the worst: Spring rolls around and you find plants and trees not responding whatsoever.
It’s a real pain to consider having to unwrap the hoses, screw them back in and spend time watering things at this cold and windy time of year, but it is necessary. For those who can easily manipulate their back flow devices, it can be a simple matter of running the irrigation systems.
What is required as well, in Reno, is a deep watering, letting the water trickle until it penetrates deep into the root systems supplying water to the entire root mass, especially that below. I suggest running a truly saturating amount of water onto the plant until one is certain everything is soaked thoroughly. Repeat at least 2 more times, if not more often. The plants, especially those deciduous ones, are indeed in a state of near total dormancy. However, there are necroses that can rot the roots without some attention to moisture at the very deepest levels. Many plants and trees which are diagnosed as somehow root-damaged or poorly-planted are nothing of the sort. They are literally starved for water.