How To Protect Outdoor Plants In Winter

Mulching is one of the simplest and most efficient techniques to safeguard delicate plants. As the organic mulch breaks down and provides nutrients to the soil, it will also assist improve the soil. Pull back old mulch from plant bases in the fall, then cover them with a fresh 3 inch (8 cm) layer up to the drip line. To promote airflow and prevent rot, give the plant’s stem a 1/2-inch (1 cm) spacing all around.

To avoid winter sunscald, wrap delicate tree trunks in burlap or whitewash them.

To safeguard the roses’ crown, rake a mound of earth around their bases to a depth of 12 to 18 inches (31-46 cm).

To protect fresh leaves on bushes and shrubs from wind and winter sun, apply an anti-desiccant.

Over perennial and flower beds, spread a layer of straw or wood chips measuring 6 to 8 inches (15–20 cm) thick.

In the winter, cover outdoor plants with screens or frames built on the southwest side, and be sure to water them before the ground freezes. Due to the fact that damp soil retains more heat than dry soil, wet soil prevents freezing damage to roots.

Keep potted plants on dollies so you may move them indoors or to a protected area as the weather becomes colder.

Some plants might benefit from having a cage or structure around them. When filled with straw, a chicken wire cage works well as a barrier from the cold for tree trunks. Wrap tall bushes, like arborvitae, with twine. This pushes the limbs in closer so that if snow accumulates on them, they won’t splay and break. Stakes can be used to support horizontal limbs that might break if they become overly weighted down by snow.

How can you prevent winter plant death in outdoor plants?

In all honesty, you could probably just let hardy outside plants take care of themselves during the winter, and they’d probably be fine. (Can you tell that I practice pretty laissez-faire plant parenting?) However, if you’re a superb plant parent, follow these simple instructions to ensure that your outdoor plants have the most relaxing winter hibernation ever.

Know Your Plants

You should first inventory all of your current plants. Determine which plants are annuals and perennials, if you don’t already know. Annuals have a single growing season and won’t return after the winter. Common annual flowers that can be easily removed and composted include geraniums, sunflowers, marigolds, and zinnias.

Bring any tropical or subtropical plants inside as well. Even though they may thrive outdoors in the summer, ferns and palms aren’t sturdy enough to endure winter conditions like snow and freezing temperatures. Just be careful to inspect them for bugs before you bring them inside, or else you run the risk of having bugs infest all of your other plants (a mistake I’ve made several times).

Get the right planter

The first step in winter plant protection is choosing the appropriate container. The finest material for protecting plants is fiberglass. That is true, as evidenced by the fact that garden centers are among our top customers for fiberglass planters!

Fiberglass planters not only keep plants warm, but they also shield them from the ground’s freezing temperatures. Root rot is much less likely to occur when drainage holes are built than when garden plants are planted in the ground. Additionally, because fiberglass is lightweight and sturdy, they are the finest way to move your prized plants, trees, and shrubs into warmer climates while attempting to prevent winter damage.

Add a Layer of Mulch

Mulch is a year-round garden wonder-worker and a crucial component of winter maintenance. Your plants are covered by it, much like a blanket.

Heaving or lifting of soils brought on by freeze-thaw cycles is a typical wintertime issue. Heucherella and Gaillardia are two shallow-rooted plants that can actually be forced out of the ground by soil heaving, leaving their vulnerable crowns and roots exposed to frigid temperatures.

By preserving the soil’s moisture and insulation, mulch helps to maintain stable soil temperatures. It’s considerably difficult for soil to freeze solid when it’s damp.

After the first frost, quickly water your plants and cover them with a thick, 3- to 5-inch layer of mulch. The best materials are light and won’t compact, like pine straw and cut leaves.

Winter Watering

It is crucial to offer supplemental irrigation at least once a month to keep soils moist because trees lose a lot of water throughout the winter (unless there is enough rainfall), especially on windy days.

Additionally, during cold spells, soil moisture shields evergreen and dormant plants. The danger for root damage during the cold weather increases if the soil is dry because moist soils retain more heat than dry soils. Watch out for plants in containers because they tend to be drier than plants in other places.

Bring potted plants indoors

Simply removing your plants from the cold is the first and simplest way to combat the cold.

Bring within any hanging baskets or potted plants you may have outside. It will still be advantageous to go to the garage or a sunroom because doing so will raise the temperature by at least 10°F. The greatest option, if it’s possible, is to decorate your home with plants by placing them throughout the interior.

Cover your plants

Since the covering won’t significantly raise the temperature, this strategy is excellent for protecting against frost rather than really cold conditions. Oh, and don’t forget to remove it throughout the day to let the plants to receive adequate light from the winter sun.

What should we use to protect plants?

Mulch works well as a plant base covering. Large plants and shrubs are best covered with bed linens or comforters. Newspaper can be used to low-growing vegetation, but it can frequently be challenging to make it stay put. Old pillowcases, sheets, towels, and even cardboard boxes are more options.

You can use plastic, but it’s crucial to remember that you shouldn’t let it touch your plants. Since it can hold moisture against plant tissues and worsen freezing damage, plastic that comes in contact with your plants is frequently much worse than no protection.

Build a cold frame or greenhouse

Construct a quick, temporary cold frame to keep heat in and frost out. The greatest way to keep your young, delicate plants warm and safe during the winter is with this method. It is not the most appealing option, though, and it does require some work.

Making your own cold frame to protect plants from the outdoors is simple and only requires a few cheap and reused materials, a drill, some screws, and a screwdriver.

How do I prepare my outdoor plants for winter?

Garden Winterization in 5 Easy Steps

  • Make sure the soil around your plants has enough of remaining moisture before it becomes too cold.
  • In the late fall, avoid fertilizer application.
  • Never prune evergreen shrubs or trees in the fall.
  • Mulching is the most crucial task to complete in your garden’s winterization.

How can hard freeze damage be avoided for outdoor plants?

Planting too early might result in a crisis if a cold snap is impending, whether it was because you were seduced by some striking hue at the garden center or simply wanted to start the gardening season early. It’s not difficult to help your seedlings survive the great frost, but it does take some planning.

When temperatures drop, you can usually rely on improvised protection for plants. The necessary tools must be prepared in advance to protect plants from frigid mornings for larger plantings, such as a food garden.

Knowing when prized vegetation starts to turn frost-burned brown will help you know what to do when freeze warnings are in effect. As a general rule, plants typically freeze when the temperature stays at 28°F for five hours.

There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. When temps drop to 32–33F, seedlings often die because of their delicate new leaves. There are many low-temperature thresholds for tropical plants. Some collapse at temperatures below 40°F, while others break down at 35°F. Other plants are naturally resistant and can endure temperatures as low as 18 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Do a search in gardening books and internet resources to discover the threshold for your plants.

Take it up

Moving plants away from potential danger is the simplest cold-protection strategy. Potted plants and seedlings in flats both benefit from this. Moving plants onto a porch with a roof, into a garage or shed, or under a deck frequently provides sufficient shelter.

Rely on Water

Just before sunset, water the soil to raise the temperature of the surrounding air overnight as the water evaporates. Water-filled buckets or gallon jugs should be left in the sun all day. Move them close to threatened plants at night. Air temperatures will be moderated by the water, and if it freezes, heat will be released. To boost midday heating, paint a few water-holding containers black for best results.

the air flowing

The biggest harm is done to plants by cold, motionless air. To prevent frost from accumulating on plants, you can use an electric fan all night to create a breeze. Never forget to keep electrical connections dry.

Plants Should Be CoveredPlants should be covered with sheets, towels, blankets, cardboard, or a tarp to protect them from everything but the harshest freezing (28F for five hours). Inverting baskets, coolers, or any other container with a firm bottom over plants is also an option. Before it gets dark, cover plants to keep warm air in. Coverings shouldn’t ideally contact the foliage. If windy conditions are anticipated, anchor cloth coverings.

When the temperature rises and the frost has melted in the morning, remove coverings. Under dense covers, heat from the sun can accumulate and cause plant death.

Blankets that collapse

Row covers, or gardening blankets, should always be accessible. These covers are created in various thicknesses from plastic or synthetic fibers. Lay row covers directly on the plants, or suspend them over a bed with pegs to form a tunnel.

Activate lights

An incandescent light bulb produces enough heat to raise the temperature of the air around it just enough to keep a plant from freezing. For this method to operate, bulbs must be close to plants (within a distance of 2-3 feet). (Fluorescent bulbs can’t produce enough heat to complete this task.)

Defend specific plants

Set up hot caps

At planting time, stiff plastic containers with venting holes are placed over the individual seedlings. Hot caps function similarly to cloches (small greenhouses), but the daily task of applying and removing the covering is eliminated by venting holes. Use plastic two-liter bottles or gallon jugs with the bottoms cut off and the lids removed to simulate a hot cap (but saved). In the evenings when the weather turns chilly, replace the lids.

A Wall O’Water tepee, which encircles individual plants with a sleeve of water-filled tubes, is a variation on the hot cap concept. During the day, the water absorbs the heat of the sun. The water gently freezes at night, releasing the sun’s stored radiant heat and preventing the air within the tepee from becoming frosty.

Should I put plastic over my plants?

Although it can be utilized, plastic is not the greatest or most efficient material for protecting plants from frost. Actually, the horticultural specialists at Green Impressions advise against it. Because vinyl and conventional camping tarps are made of plastic, which lacks breathability, moisture is trapped within.

The plastic may actually attach to the leaves, depending on its thickness, and when it is removed in the morning, the lovely plants you were hoping to see will be stuck to the plastic. The excess moisture trapped beneath the non-breathing plastic will also present a larger hazard to the health of your plants and raise the possibility of an early death if the temperature drops low enough.

Green Impressions suggests using natural fabrics for frost protection instead of plastic, such as a cotton or linen towel or blanket, an open burlap bag, or even newspaper. This is particularly true for clients who reside near the Northeast Ohio lakefront communities of Avon, Avon Lake, Lorain, Bay Village, Lakewood, and Sheffield, where the lake’s increased humidity is a factor.

These natural materials prevent freezing air from coming into direct contact with the moisture on the plants themselves and beneath the fabric, allowing moisture to escape while yet protecting your potted plants and landscaping flowers from bad weather. While newspaper can be used on low-growing foliage, it won’t remain on top of huge plants as well. Bed sheets work well for covering large plants and shrubs, as well as young sprouts.

There are coverings available for purchase that are designed expressly to shield your plants from frost and freezing weather. All of these approaches are effective in preventing frost damage to your trees, plants, and landscaping flowers, even if these pre-made coverings may be more aesthetically pleasing than the quick, spontaneous techniques mentioned above.

(Note: The best course of action in the case that coverings fail to adequately protect your plants from frost is to let nature take its course and reassess your plant frost coverage strategies for the next year.)

In the winter, what should I do with my plants?

The easiest time of year to kill a houseplant is definitely during the winter. Houseplants are put to the test by harsh growing conditions like low light levels, dry air, shorter days, and frigid temperatures.

Making care routine adjustments to accommodate seasonal growing circumstances is the key to ensuring that plants survive the winter. Review the fundamentals to provide your indoor plants with the best care during winter.

Winter causes the sun to set later in the day, which results in a 50% reduction in light levels near windows. During the winter, indoor plants that thrive near a sunny eastern or northern window during the summer may require a southern or western exposure. Similarly, plants near windows in the west or south that require filtered light in the summer might be able to endure direct sunlight in the winter.

To aid plants in adjusting to shifting light conditions:

  • If it’s possible, move plants nearer to the windows.
  • Window cleaning will maximize light transmission.
  • For the winter, move plants to new areas next to windows with more light.
  • Cleanse plants to allow leaves to utilize the light that is available to the fullest.
  • Add synthetic lighting. Fluorescent lights are sufficient. They generate less heat and are less expensive than conventional grow lights. For best results, place bulbs 4–12 inches away from plants.

Tropical plants, which make up the majority of indoor plants, like daytime temperatures of 65 to 75 F and nighttime temperatures of around 10 F lower. Low temperatures (below 50F) can be problematic for many plants.

In order to make the thermostats more comfortable for you, keep in mind that your plants also require some thought.

  • Keep plants away from heat sources and cold gusts.
  • Maintain a few inches of space between plants and external windows.
  • Plants should be moved away from windows at nightfall in cold climates if windows freeze over at night. Additionally, you may tuck a thick shade or another insulating item between the plants and the glass.

In the cold, homes might only provide 5–10% relative humidity. Houseplants prefer 40–50%. Brown leaf tips and the presence of pests like Spider Mites are indicators that plants are being stressed by low humidity. Learn how to increase the humidity around plants in simple methods.

Overwatering is the most frequent issue that indoor plants encounter throughout the winter. 95% of indoor plants require the soil to almost totally dry out before watering. How do you determine whether plants need water?

  • Don’t only test a small area of the soil’s surface. When the root zone is dry, plants require moisture. Insert your finger up to two inches into the ground. Water the soil if it’s dry.
  • Pick up the pot. When soil gets dry, it becomes lighter. Lift pots right away after watering to feel the texture of the moist soil.
  • Plants won’t need water as frequently if winterized rooms are humidified. Water must be added to dry air.
  • The only exceptions to this rule are citrus and ferns in pots, both of which require continually moist soil. If you are uncertain, always do your research.

Never let plants sit in water that gathers in the drainage saucer overnight when you water.

Fertilize plants all winter long in mild climates. Winter fertilization of indoor plants is not recommended in the coldest climates with little natural light. When springtime outside plants begin to grow, fertilizer can be resumed.

In the spring and summer, when most indoor plants are actively growing, is the ideal time to repot them. Potted woody plants that entirely hibernate in the winter are the exception. Transplant those in the early spring before the buds break.

  • Numerous advantages of houseplants include bettering indoor air quality and lowering sickness rates.