There is no denying how seasonal plant dormancy drastically impacts the look of your garden beds. Throughout the late fall and winter months in North Texas, you can expect to see deciduous trees littering the lawn with their leaves, perennial grasses turn to straw and even the stable evergreen landscaping plants slow down or halt growth altogether. This period of dormancy is both a significant and necessary part of a plant’s life cycle.
What is Plant Dormancy?
Plant dormancy refers to a period of time when it stops growing and developing. This halt in activity is a way for the plants to conserve their nutrients and energy and is triggered by the environmental conditions a plant is living in. For example, when a plant is coming into a cold season with freezing temperatures and less available sunlight, it will go dormant.
What Happens When Plants Go Dormant?
Dormancy looks different in each plant. One of the first signs of plant dormancy will be no new growth and, for perennials and deciduous plants, shedding foliage. In an effort to conserve water and nutrient needs over the winter, plants will suspend growth and cast off the parts that would require feeding. While you might observe many plants simply drop their foliage such as the leaves on a tree, most other plants simply appear to shrivel up. All parts of the plant that were once green seem to go brown. In fact, if you’re not familiar with your plants, you might suspect it has died. Never fear, your plant is simply resting.
Caring for Dormant Plants
Dormant plants need very little care while they are sleeping. Raking up the fallen leaves and foliage will be your most time consuming duty in late fall. For your dormant perennial plants that leave behind a mere skeleton of their former selves, you can simply leave them as they are. When these plants reemerge in the spring, the old growth will naturally fall away. When the spring season approaches and once the final freeze has past, you should add pruning dormant plants to your springtime landscaping duties. This will keep things tidy and also signal the plant to begin growing and blooming again.
Even though the winter season brings plant dormancy and may be appear to be a bleak time for landscaping, you can comfort yourself in knowing that your plants are gearing up to put on an amazing spring show.
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