Ocracoke nature, flora & fauna

Old Man Winter: what have you done to our plants?

April 2014

By Jennifer Rich

This winter has been ex­tremely long and taxing on our nerves and envi­ronment. Ocracoke is used to a much milder winter and it’s ob­vious our plants are suffering. So what do we do?

First thing is to be patient. We still have one more cold weather spell. Usually by now we are cleaning up our beds, pruning back limbs and set­ting out cold crop veggies. This year is the exception. Forecast­ers are telling us to wait until early April to start our spring routines to avoid tree and shrub damage.

The one thing you can’t miss is the leaf burnt oleander bushes. Normally we would have pruned by now, but be patient and wait another week or two to avoid damage to the bush. Then be sure to trim on an angle so that water runs off the cut and doesn’t settle.

Fig trees are hardy but wait­ing another week or two can’t hurt. Also cut on the angle to prevent damage. Tough older fig can stand cutting back 1/3 to 1/2 their size.

I prefer to eliminate dead stems and shape up the bush for better production. If you don’t see green on the stems it is probably dead but try pruning first and wait a few weeks.

Also sago palms are show­ing stress. If the frond is brown, it is dead and should be re­moved. But any green stems will feed the palm. The trick to this is wait a little longer for the warm sun to tell the palm its time to grow.

Jennifer Rich loves plants and gardening. She owns the Ocracoke Garden Center at the back of the Variety Store park­ing