Gardening to Beat the Winter Blues

— Written By Nancie Mandeville

hydrangea in winter

Now that the holidays are in the past, get outside this month into your yard! Did you know that gardening can help you beat the winter blues and that six hours of gardening a week can help boost your mood? Another benefit to winter gardening is the added exercise. Most people tend to stay indoors longer in winter than they do during summer seasons, so winter gardening is a good excuse to get outside and be active.

Seeds can be directly sown outside in the ground during the winter months. Winter sowing of seeds can save you money, no grow lights are needed and seeds sown outside in the winter require no coddling. Look for words on the package such as “needs pre-chilling,” “self-sows,” “hardy,” or “needs stratification” for hints as to which seeds work best. Directly sow the seeds into your prepared garden bed.

Add some winter chores to your ‘to do’ list that will keep you healthier and happier. Assess your trees and shrubs. When the leaves are off deciduous trees in the winter, it is a good time to access their pruning needs. The best time to prune hardwoods is during their dormant period. Late winter or early spring, before bud break, is a good time to prune many species because callus tissue forms rapidly. Some trees, such as redbud, dogwood, cherry, plum, and crabapple, form buds on old wood so pruning on these trees should be done after they bloom. Others, such as crape myrtle, bloom on new wood so can be pruned now. To learn more about proper pruning, type the words “General Pruning Techniques NC State University” into your browser search bar.

Watering is often forgotten about during the winter months. Dry air, low precipitation, wind, and fluctuating temperatures can affect many trees, shrubs, and perennials. Evergreens are especially susceptible to drying out and may be damaged if they do not receive supplemental water. Water only when the air temperatures are above 40°. Mid-day is the best time to apply water so it will have time to soak in before possible freezing at night. Newly planted trees are most susceptible to winter drought injury, so pay particular attention to those plants in your landscape.

So, if you are feeling blue after the holidays, get up, get outside, and get some pink in those cheeks!