As this message is being assembled, the latest hope for significant rain looks like it’s going to break to our south and deposit a meager 1/4 – 1/2 inch of rain on Boston / Metro-west. Soil conditions are dry, dry, dry, and that is not good for plants as they go into what could be another real Winter with long, deep freezes and desiccating winds (sorry to have mentioned that in polite conversation). The images are of a grouping of PJM and Rhododendron in Weston that are demonstrating how dry they are by curling their leaves real tight–a means of limiting water loss. Soils have gotten so dry that they are hydrophobic and will shed a good amount of any precipitation before it can penetrate.
If you have special or weak plants, recently installed plants (under 3 years), or plants without drip irrigation, I strongly suggest organizing a way to get them hydrated before they go in for the Winter long haul. A sprinkler set to a low volume and left on the root zone of your plant for an hour or more is an ideal method. When in doubt, dig a small hole to see how far down the water has moved. 6-12 inches is desirable. Even if the plant already looks to have gone dormant, proper soil moisture is advised.
If the 2014 ’15 Winter conditions become especially detrimental to plant health, a winterizer application will be suggested for needle and broad leaf evergreen plants in the Jan-Feb timeframe to arrest desiccation. The Organic soil fertilizer rich with humate and kelp helps a lot with drought conditions. Among the many benefits of humates, they prevent that hydrophobic activity so plants can make the most of the rain water they do get. Humates also grow the fungal biomass of soils which dramatically improves moisture retention when compared to an unimproved sandy loam. Fall is a great time to start improving your soils with our tree and shrub fertilizer.