preparing for winter questions

Wymore, NE(Zone 5a)

Fall has left us in Nebraska with some beautiful late fall days. Winter is encroaching on us non the less. Our fall has been so mild, that my area has only had a couple of light freezes. My pitcher plants, or sarracenias still have a lot of color to them. So here's my questions. Do I go ahead and cut them down to three inches anyway? Then, do I start mulching now, or wait longer? Thanks...

Poughkeepsie, NY(Zone 6a)

How cold are your nights? It gets below freezing there in winter doesn't it?

You could cut them all the way down then place them in your 40 degree F. or so dormancy spot. Mine is my refrigerator.

Wymore, NE(Zone 5a)

Oh yes, we get below freezing! It's not unusual to get down to zero. My bog is an outside one. So I'm going to mulch very heavily with pine needles and oak leaves. Then hope for the best. Sounds like a cold blast is on it's way with 20's for a low. That ought to send them into dormancy! So I believe this week I will be starting the mulching. Southeast Nebraska is zone 5a.
If I loose them all, I may get some more and do the refrigerator thing. I'm just hoping the heavy mulch will break the freeze and thaw cycle.

Poughkeepsie, NY(Zone 6a)

Good luck!

Wymore, NE(Zone 5a)

Thanks, I will be crossing my fingers!

Pitchers that are spent can be cut down that low. Just don't cut everything down. You need to leave all the phyllodia on the sarracenias.

If a cold blast like that is on its way, don't worry about what height to cut pitchers down to because that's mostly to avoid having them ripped from the ground in high winds and you could always trim them up next spring but you really should get your buns out there and mulch real fast even if you have to go out there in your bathrobe with a flashlight this evening. Go to 6".

By the looks of your bog photos from your other thread; you have a flava, leucophylla, 'Judith Hindle', purpurea, 'Dixie Lace', rubra, and maybe 'Tarnok'? Looks as if you have some little ones that I can't see well enough to even try to figure out what you've got there. Those plants should all have a good shot at making it if you mulch heavily. That volunteer Drosera doesn't strike me as being hardy. Might be a good idea to dig that up and bring it in at least until you can get a positive id on it. The photo isn't good enough for me to see exactly what you've got there.

Really neat bog there. Looks as if you have it in the perfect place too with all the sun I'm seeing in your photos.

Wymore, NE(Zone 5a)

Hi Equil, uhmm, what is phyllodia? Thank goodness it's not going to get that low (20's) for a few more days. I have several bags of pine needles collected, so i will be applying those.
With the Drosera, if it's not hardy, wouldn't that mean the sphagnum I used didn't come from a temperate climate?

Hi 7oaks,

So glad you asked what phyllodia was before giving all your plants hair cuts.

Just as temperate Drosera form hibernaculum to protect the apex from desiccation over winter, Sarracenia form phyllodia so that they can photosynthesize over the entire winter. Hibernaculum and phyllodia are winter leaves that the plants evolved over time to help them break dormancy the following spring.

Here are some photos of hibernaculum, the last photo illustrates a very tightly formed turion on Drosera linearis-

Here are some photos of phyllodia, they are the non-pitcher leaves toward the base of the plants-
Phyllodia can be lance leaved or curly and anywhere in between but they're never pitchers so you will always know them.

You never want to cut these winter leaves down regardless of whether the plants are overwintering in the ground or getting stashed in a refrigerator for the winter and believe it or not, some sunlight will reach them through the pine needle mulch.

Most of my sphagnum comes from New Zealand. Some of my sphagnum comes from Chili. I know they take some from freshwater peat bogs in Florida. Sphagnum comes from all over and besides which, your little volunteer could have come from one of the plants you purchased from your nursery. Any time you buy plants from nurseries, there's always the chance of getting pot hoppers.

Wymore, NE(Zone 5a)

So helpful and interesting Equil, once again, thanks! I did dig up the volunteer and brought it in. It most definitely was bitten by the frost. It wasn't near any of the purchased plants. It's a cutie tho.
I now have about 6-7 inches of pine needles on, I figure that will settle to about half of that. Next, I will put a layer of oak leaves on. The wind has been blowing like crazy here for about three days, the leaves are every where, with big piles in some corners.
Now I have a mouse and rodent question. Are they much of a problem for you? We don't have cats by the house anymore to catch the little burgers.
You have been soooo helpful to me with this venture. Just want you to know how much I appreciate it. :

Sorry about your little mystery volunteer but maybe it will be ok.

We haven't had a lot of wind but it's been raining here.

Rodents are a problem throughout this entire region. One of the reasons why I prefer pine needles and oak leaves as a mulch. Lots of people like to mulch using old cotton clothing that they shred and that's just asking for problems. Want to use an old tattered and torn cotton shirt or a thread bare pair of jeans covered with hardwood chips as mulch around the base of a sapling, go ahead but not a good idea around these types of plants. We used to have a boatload of feral and stray cats around here. They were urinating and defecating in all of my raised beds and my bogs and there was still a rodent problem so I wouldn't take in any cats as they aren't all that great at rodent control and they're totally worthless when it comes to rats and to add insult to injury... who wants to put up with them digging up flower beds to take a dump. The Rat Zapper works great for rats. We use that all the time around outbuildings where we store animal feed. A nice big rat snake works as well and doesn't require batteries ;) Inside my greenhouse, we use some sort of an electronic device to drive them out in late fall. We only use it for a few days to get them out because over time they will become desensitized to the sound. After that, we use the smaller battery operated Mouse Zappers. Wish I could keep a snake in the greenhouse but not enough mice to sustain one. We also use the mouse zappers in our home at this time of year. The mice are coming in for the winter and our indoor cats don't do much other than stare at them. We toss out anything we electocute and something is making short work of the dead mice when we toss them outside because they disappear over night. So yes, we have a rodent problem around here. I particularly don't like it when they get in the greenhouse because they do major damage to plants. When they get in the house here, we end up with our indoor only cats picking up fleas from them. I hate fleas. So far, no more problems with rodents in the bogs.

Want to deter mice? Encourage any snakes to hang out in your back yard. They're beautiful animals anyway. I created rock piles for ours to bask on as well as to seek shelter from predators such as coyotes and hawks. We've got common garter snakes, milk, fox, and water snakes around here and they all look really healthy to me. The snakes do a bang up job taking care of the rodents. Too good of a job sometimes because I've lost almost all of my chipmunks now too. Every once in a while you can see a snake with a lump and you know it doesn't have a rumbly in its tummy.

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