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Lily turf is a hardy, evergreen perennial plant that requires relatively little work. Popularly used for ground cover or as an edging plant, lily turf has beautiful, dark green and grass-like foliage. But does it stay green all winter?
Lily turf can stay green all winter if the temperatures remain above 4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius). When temperatures fall below this threshold, the plant may go into dormancy which causes brown leaf margins or browning of the entire leaf.
The rest of this article will cover how lily turf changes in winter and guide you on how you can keep your plant healthy through the season. I will also highlight some common lily turf problems and how you can manage them throughout the seasons.
Will Lily Turf Turn Brown in the Winter?
Lily turf will turn brown in moderate and severely cold winters or when temperatures drop below 4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius). In regions with mild winters, lily turf will remain green throughout the winter.
So, why does lily turf turn brown in colder winters? Let’s find out.
Why Lily Turf Turns Brown in the Winter
In freezing temperatures, lily turf enters dormancy, slowing down or stopping the plant’s growth and development. When this happens, the above-ground part of the lily turf dies off, and the plant is sustained by the underground parts that remain alive.
When the temperatures rise in spring, new foliage grows, and the plant regains its green color. However, if the plant is not adequately prepared to withstand extreme winter weather, it can suffer irreversible tissue damage and fail to recover even after the weather gets warmer.
How To Adequately Prepare Your Lily Turf for Winter
Preparing lily turf to withstand cold winter weather, or winterizing it, can help you retain the green foliage for longer. It will also help the plant to recover faster once winter is over.
Follow this guide when winterizing your lily turf:
Cut Back the Lily Turf In Late Winter
Pruning your lily turf after the worse of winter will help it survive the cold temperatures better. Proper pruning will also encourage the growth of healthy foliage in spring (source).
Trim the plant to a height of not more than 5 centimeters (2 inches) above ground.
When cutting back lily turf, you need a sharp cutting tool and a pair of gardening gloves (to protect your hands). If you use a lawn mower, ensure the blades are well-sharpened and cut at the highest height.
It would be best if you also cut back damaged leaves or any leaves displaying signs of disease to prevent further spread and potential plant death. Immediately dispose of any infected plant parts in sealed plastic bags to keep them from infecting healthy plants.
Repeat this process annually to encourage the growth of thick, healthy foliage.
Apply a Layer of Mulch
Protecting the lily turf crown and roots is crucial to ensuring it withstands the freezing winter temperatures. Adding a layer of mulch over the plant just before winter starts will keep the plant safe by providing insulation against unfavorable winter weather (source).
You can use any of the following mulching materials to protect your lily turf in winter:
- Dried grass
- Shredded bark
- Shredded leaves
Don’t Fertilize in Winter
Lily turf does not need to be fertilized in winter since its growth rate is much slower during this season and does not need additional nutrients. Furthermore, the plant will not take up the fertilizer anyway, and it will end up being wasted (source).
The best time to fertilize lily turf is in early spring when the growing conditions are at an optimum level, and the plant needs a boost to regrow adequately.
Overwatering your lily turf or growing it in poorly draining soil may cause severe plant damage due to root rot. In addition, water-saturated soil encourages fungus growth, such as anthracnose, which could cause severe plant tissue damage.
Lily turf is especially susceptible to water-related damage in winter because excess water evaporates very slowly (if at all) due to the low temperatures.
Therefore, ensure that the soil has good drainage before winter starts. You can do this by enriching the soil with compost and reducing the watering frequency (you should only irrigate when the soil is dry).
Do not water the lily turf during winter.
Common Lily Turf Problems and How to Manage them
Lily turf is a relatively resilient plant and is hardy in US zones 4 to 6. Nonetheless, plant owners must keep themselves informed about common problems to prevent and manage them adequately.
Here are some common challenges you may encounter while growing lily turf:
Anthracnose is an incurable fungal disease that causes dark (or reddish-brown) lesions on plant tissue (source).
The fungus thrives in humid conditions resulting from continuous rainfall or overhead irrigation. Anthracnose can survive on lily turf through the winter.
Management of anthracnose involves keeping the foliage dry and using a fungicide to prevent further spread, moreso to new growth. Proper pruning and disposal of affected plant parts will also protect uninfected ones.
Leaf and Crown Rot
This fungal disease is characterized by discoloration and rotting of lily turf leaves at the point of attachment.
Key contributing factors for leaf and crown rot include overcrowding your plants and poor drainage. Unfortunately, by the time you diagnose this disease in your lily turf, much of the damage may already be done (source).
To manage this problem, get rid of any infected plant parts and dispose of them in a sealed plastic bag. Ensure that these infected parts do not come into contact with healthy plants because they can cause cross-contamination. You should also apply fungicides to protect the unaffected lily turf.
A fungal disease, root rot can be diagnosed through yellowing foliage, which eventually progresses to plant death. It is most prevalent in poorly draining soils compounded with warm temperatures.
Management of root rot involves improving soil drainage through methods such as:
- Using raised seed beds
- Incorporating compost into the soil
- Installing drainage systems (for example, drain tiles)
Lily turf can remain green through warmer winters. However, when temperatures drop below 4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius), the plant goes into dormancy and may turn brown.
As a lily turf owner, you must familiarize yourself with the proper winterization procedure to protect your plant from winter damage.
Finally, healthy plants can withstand freezing temperatures better. Therefore, diagnosing and managing common plant problems is vital in maintaining healthy lily turf.