The winter months, especially due to the intense cold, are not very suitable for gardening.
However, as is known, winter is the season in which the vast majority of trees and plants enter a resting phase, in which the plant organism minimizes vital activities to regenerate.
Assuming that the particular geographical conformation of Italy can give rise to some local exceptions due to the notoriously milder and more temperate climate of the southern regions of the Peninsula, it is good to consider that during the winter months temperatures are normally kept too cold for the survival of a large number of plants, which therefore require special attention. These plant species, especially those not strictly native to the area where the garden is located, need to receive special attention to deal with the cold season, given that low temperatures could compromise their health.
Furthermore, the winter months turn out to be the most suitable for some ordinary jobs, such as repotting and renewing the soil, planting new plants, pruning adult ones and carrying out some phytosanitary interventions essential to combat attacks of parasites.
Every plant species has, of course, peculiar needs, so it is good to keep in mind the optimal conditions for the plant to spend the winter rest period without being affected.
Some trees and shrubs particularly sensitive to harsh climates must be protected with insulating material (plastic sheets filled with dry leaves or polystyrene for example); potted plants normally should be moved inside a greenhouse or, alternatively, in areas of the house with sufficient light and not too hot temperature; succulent plants then have special needs, and may require relatively cold temperatures (normally between 4 and 12 degrees Celsius).
Regarding phytosanitary interventions, it is good to consider that during the winter months some plants need to receive specific treatments against parasites, which lay their eggs in winter. Hitting the larvae of pests is the most effective way to prevent the plant from being massively attacked during the spring.
Trees and shrubs
During the winter it is good to repair from frost in a protected wintering room the most sensitive species grown in pots (blue jasmine, cycas, bunganvillea, palms, citrus fruits).
During the sunny days it is good to open the wintering areas to aerate them; at the same time it is good to remove any dry leaves that may have fallen to the floor as they could turn into parasites. It would be good to do this at least once a week, taking advantage of it to irrigate the plants.
As for outdoor plants, in case snowfall occurs it is good to remove the blanket from the foliage, to prevent the branches from being broken by excessive weight. The plants most prone to crushing, and therefore most in need of this cleaning, are the evergreens like pines, olives, privets, magnolias. To carry out the operation, it is sufficient to have a pole lined at the end with some rags, so as not to damage the bark of the plant.
As far as pruning is concerned, winter is the perfect season to remove dry, diseased or broken branches: the plant, being normally in the resting phase, will not be affected by the trauma.
During the winter season it is finally possible to provide for phytosanitary intervention against the processionary nests: these must be sprayed with the appropriate products and then removed and if possible burned, in order to eliminate the parasites.
Finally, winter is the best time for planting new plants: after having dug the hole that will host the plant, it is good to dip the roots for half an hour in a bucket containing a mixture of fine earth, water and manure. fresh. In this way the rooting of the plant will be favored, which will have to be abundantly irrigated as soon as it is planted.
Acidophilic plants (rhododendrons, hydrangeas, camellias, azaleas, heathers)
Since the winter quarter is extremely cold, it is not recommended to do any kind of work on acidophilic plants other than to protect them from the cold and remove the snow that could be deposited on the foliage.
Plants that are grown on the ground should be protected with abundant mulch (bark, dry leaves, grass mowing), so that frost does not compromise the vital functions of the acidophilus.
Plants grown in pots, on the other hand, must be placed in open-air places, but repaired (niches, external staircases), preferably facing south. If you live in areas where temperatures often fall below zero, better to line the vessels with insulating material to protect the roots.
Plants should be irrigated regularly, so the soil is constantly moist.
After the middle of February, the most mature plants can be pruned, eliminating the less vigorous branches or, at bifurcations, those of shorter length. In the same period repotting and soil change operations can be carried out.
Winter gardens: Bulbous and tuberous plants
The bulbs of these plant species are normally planted during the autumn months.
Since the bulbs are planted at a low depth, it is advisable to make sure that the rain or the alternation of frost and thaw do not remove the layer of earth that covers them: to avoid this possibility, it is advisable to lay a layer of bark (better if pine) a few centimeters thick.
When the bulbs have sprouted, it is good to protect them with a mesh that is not too thick to keep wild birds away, which normally feed on them.
If the winter quarter is particularly dry, it is good to periodically irrigate the flower beds or pots, choosing if possible the central hours of the day to carry out the operation.
As for phytosanitary interventions, before planting the bulbs it is good to eliminate those that are affected by mold infections. These are caused by some parasitic fungi, and if they are neglected they can extend to healthy bulbs.