With snow season upon us, home gardeners should know that the fluffy white stuff can actually benefit plants during freezing winter weather – if you are lucky enough to have much. Snow is an excellent insulator and can protect landscape plants from the devastating effects of repeated freezing and thawing, Flower bulbs and garden root crops, in particular, will benefit from an insulating layer of snow. Plus, the added moisture when the snow melts is good for plants.
For your plants' sake, use snow mulch only where you are sure melting snow will drain away easily and efficiently. Do not pile up a lot of snow in areas around the house where drainage is poor. Too much snow can result in unwanted quagmires around the home. Waterlogged soils in the spring can stress or even kill some plants.
Landscape plants under eaves are often drought-stressed. Moving some of the snow shoveled off driveways and walkways and pile it around plants under eaves that may have escaped coverage by snowfall.
Here is a question I was asked about the amount of snow. "I have a lots of evergreen shrubs that are getting crushed and flattened by all this snow. I've been removing as much snow as I can, being careful not to damage the plants. Is there anything else I can do to protect them? Will they regain their upright habit when the weather warms up?"
Almost all plants do. The more they're native and/or appropriate for our region, the better they can handle these kinds of local weather events. It may look frightening when they're bent to the ground during a storm, but their ability to bend is what keeps them from breaking completely.
It should be fine to knock some of the snow off with a broom, but be gentle. And be personally careful—don't hurt yourself or neglect your walkways; this job is way down on the ‘After Storm To Do' list. And don't try and upright them by force—they'll stand up on their own when they're ready. If a branch or two turns out to be damaged (a common occurrence over any winter), just prune it off.
These recent ‘double whammy blizzards' are going to wind up being responsible for a lot of plant death—and not due to snow, cold or even high wind. No, the culprit behind all of the brown lawn edges and sad shrubs that appear this Spring will have been the homeowners who used cheap rock salt to de-ice their walkway. Now there's a lot of sidewalk ice to come as this—ahem, ‘stuff'—melts; so do your plants a favor and only use salt-free deicers the rest of the season. Calcium chloride works great and is widely available; also good are potassium and magnesium chloride.
Avoid rock salt—which may not be mentioned ‘by name' on the label. Often, it's only indicated by the words sodium chloride or the symbol NaCl. But no matter how you spell it, it's death to your poor plants. Read labels carefully; many manufacturers add a small amount of an alternative deicer to rock salt to make the product look less salty. And just use a small amount of de-icer at a time. Spread a very thin layer and give it some time to work; don't empty the whole package on the ground! These alternative deicers are much more effective than plain salt, and you'll save money as well as your plants by using them judiciously.
Taken from http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/snow-or-lack-thereof-effects-landscape-plants
Till next time, this is Becky Litterer from Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa