How To Winterize Outdoor Plants

For many gardeners, getting the perennial garden ready for the fall and winter entails different things. A smart place to start is by deciding on your degree of comfort! Methods can range from doing absolutely nothing to paying close attention to each plant’s needs. One school of thought holds that letting nature take its course is ideal, so leave the garden alone to find its own path. However, keep in mind that this may expose the garden to pests and other natural invaders like diseases. Knowing the requirements and preferences of your perennial flowers is crucial if you want to organize things among your landscape plants and be better prepared for spring gardening.

The fundamentals of closing the perennial garden:

  • Fertilize not. The plant cannot prepare for the winter by encouraging new growth at this time. However, compost addition is advantageous for soil nutrition. When necessary, the plant will progressively react to this.
  • Continue to remove dead and dying foliage as well as spent flowers.
  • Keep dead leaves and other debris away from plant bases, especially before it begins to freeze.
  • Until the ground freezes, keep watering. This is the element that has the most impact on how plants survive the winter.
  • In the late fall, spread a layer of mulch or mulched leaves. Gather the leaves now! Even though the mulch shouldn’t be added until mid-November, if you start mulching leaves as they fall, you’ll be far ahead of the game. This safeguards plant crowns. Reminder: Avoid mulching bearded iris.
  • Water sensitive plants thoroughly, add compost for nutrition, and construct a small chicken wire cage that you can fill with mulch or chopped leaves.
  • Any plant that thrives in winter temperatures that are a little higher than yours.

Lists to assist you in determining the demands of your perennials:

In the autumn, nothing has to be done. Only the removal of dead stalks or stems will benefit these plants.

When should I begin to winterize my garden?

Given that temperatures haven’t yet dropped and you can still keep warm while taking care of your garden, autumn is the ideal season to start winter preparations. Before the temperatures drop, you should winterize your yard to avoid hurting your delicate plants and freezing your pipes.

How long does it take to winterize a garden?

Unless, of course, you have numerous gardens to take care of, winterizing a garden shouldn’t take more than a weekend. You probably won’t be able to winterize your garden in a single morning, so plan properly and give yourself plenty of time. You don’t want to hasten the process of winterizing your garden.

Do I need to winterize my garden every year?

Yes, you must winterize your garden every year. Your garden soil will probably be weed-filled and nutrient-poor after a fruitful growth season. Every year, winterizing your garden will help to ensure that it can produce an abundance of flowers, fruits, and vegetables the following season.

How should outside potted plants be winterized?

You might need to give your pots additional protection depending on where you reside. The following are a few choices for overwintering containers:

  • Put many pots next to the house or wall on the ground. Put the cold-hardiest plants outside the grouping, and the weaker ones in the middle. Place straw bales around the outside. Putting them together improves the insulation’s mass and volume, shielding them from chilly breezes that could cause freezing and desiccation.
  • Mulch pots with straw, mulch, or chopped leaves for further insulation. Snow is a wonderful insulator as well. Grouping pots in a premade pond liner and filling it with mulch is an intriguing concept for insulating containers.
  • The only insulation for roots is the wall of the pot itself because the majority of roots usually tend to be on the exterior of the rootball. To insulate roots, place foam along the walls of square pots that is at least an inch thick before planting. Fill the internal walls of rounded pots with foam peanuts.
  • Fill the container up with soil and bury the pots there.
  • Plant the rootball in the ground after removing it from the container. Clean the container, then keep it inside. Next year, remove the root ball and repot it in the same or a bigger container.
  • Burlap, bubble wrap, old blankets, or geotextile blankets can all be used to wrap pots. Since the roots require protection, the entire plant doesn’t need to be covered. The root zone will retain heat thanks to the support of these protective covers.
  • Cover plants at night with cloth, burlap, or plastic if low temperatures are anticipated. If you use plastic, make sure to take it off during the day because the heat can hasten the growth of the buds. Additionally, when covering, take care not to harm the plants’ tops. Plant damage from the cold and pests is facilitated by injury.
  • To offer further security, place your pot inside of a larger pot. The bigger pot should have extra insulation or sturdy walls for this to work optimally.

Hard freezes may be unusual to nonexistent in USDA Zones 7 through 11, therefore it may not be essential to add insulation or move pots indoors for the winter. There are several tasks, nevertheless, that you should still be mindful of. Plant development will stall in the winter because of the lower temperatures, and watering may become less regular. However, salt can accumulate in the soil and increase toxicity levels. Leach the salts out with water. As required, fertilize plants as well.

Can I keep potted plants outside over the winter?

Clean up any empty pots before storing them as the first step in winterizing the container garden. Clay and terra-cotta pots should be kept dry and upside-down or on their sides. Most terra-cotta pots shouldn’t be left outside in frigid weather because they could crack or break because they are constructed of porous clays. Choose terra cotta pots made of special clay that can withstand freezes if you must leave them outside (like Impruneta, for example). Terra-cotta pots typically do not hold up as well to freezing as glaze-coated pots, which are typically fired at higher temperatures.

Wrap the sides of planted terra-cotta and glazed containers with layers of bubble wrap or burlap coated in plastic to keep them safe when left outside.

Once the plants go dormant and their water needs are reduced, wrap them to prevent them from absorbing any more moisture. (Wrap containers holding

After the first hard frost, wrap evergreen plants in plastic.) If you have empty concrete, cement, or clay pots that are too heavy to move, clean them as thoroughly as possible.

In order to avoid water from building up within the pots, freezing, and cracking them, fill them as much as possible and cover them with lids or plastic sheeting. Although certain plastic pots may shatter if the soil inside expands during freezing temperatures, sturdy plastic and fiberglass pots are perfect for leaving outside. Durable hardwood-made wooden containers are also appropriate and will deteriorate gracefully over time.

How are plants prepared for the winter?

To avoid sunburn, cover young trees, especially those with thin bark like fruit trees, soft maples, and honey locusts. Apply a tree wrap made of commercial crepe paper from the soil line to the second or third branch. As you wrap, overlap the edges to help it drain water. Use a small tack or waterproof tape to secure the wrap.

Protecting roots can increase plant survival for delicate perennials and shrubs. Create a small screen to enclose plants, cover roots with soil, and then pile leaves or straw inside the screen. For certain delicate perennials, prune back the top growth and cover the plant crown with packing foam before covering it with several inches of soil. After it freezes, cover it with a layer of mulch for further defense. Use this technique to overwinter plants in borderline zones, such as lantana, pineapple sage, or lemon verbena.

When the season is over, what should you do with your potted plants?

Ten things to do:

  • 1.) Don’t just clean, “sanitize.
  • 2. Remove the dead materials.
  • 3. Cut off the wilted perennial flowers.
  • 4.) “Put compost on top of the gardens.
  • 5. One final grass cutting.
  • 6.) Apply lawn fertilizer.
  • 7.) Guard the delicate material.
  • 8. Examine the mulch.

Can perennials be kept in containers during the winter?

If you have spent the effort planning, planting, and caring for your perennial container garden during the entire growing season, you probably want to overwinter it. However, other gardeners prefer to treat perennials like annuals and chuck them out once the growing season is finished. Others decide to move their perennials in containers into the garden for the winter before starting again with new plants in the spring. Your decision is yours. Continue reading if you want to try overwintering.

Why do containerized perennials require special treatment to overwinter successfully?

  • Perennial plants dislike temperature changes that are stronger above ground than below it.
  • The risk of harm is higher when perennials are grown in pots because they are less cold-hardy.
  • Remember that your chances of successfully overwintering increase with pot size. This is so that the roots can be protected from freezing and desiccating by a larger volume of soil in a larger pot.
  • Perennials typically have an easier time surviving the winter in warmer climates or regions with a consistent, heavy layer of snow cover. It takes more effort to get them to survive the winter in the north and in locations with erratic snow cover.

No of your climate, give containerized perennials a good watering just before the ground freezes so they have a supply on hand for the warm winter months. If overwintering under cover, you can also occasionally add a few handfuls of snow to the top of the container; if the temperature rises sufficiently for it to melt, this will provide the plants extra water.

Despite this, many perennials grown in containers do not make it through the winter because they drown from receiving too much water. The roots sit in water until the soil thaws completely and the water can drain out of the pot via the drainage hole at the bottom when the pot accumulates water at the top but the soil is still frozen at the bottom. Water, especially ice cold water in the winter, is not good for roots to sit in. To prevent this from happening, overwinter your perennials in containers on their sides so that water cannot collect at the top of the pot or overwinter them under cover where they won’t receive much water over the winter or the first few weeks of spring before the soil thaws.

Overwintering Techniques

On the best way to overwinter perennials in containers, there are several different schools of thought. Some of the techniques listed here might be effective in your climate, while others might not. The best approach to figure out what will work for you is to experiment.

  • The majority opinion seems to be that burying the entire pot in the ground is the best approach to overwinter perennials grown in containers. The roots are safeguarded in this manner, just as they would be if the plants were genuinely buried in a garden. Just be careful not to keep the pot in the ground for an excessive amount of time in the spring, as this may cause the roots to start growing out of the drainage holes and securing the pot to the earth.
  • After the first severe frost, you can overwinter them by putting the pots in a cold frame or an unheated garage for the winter. Don’t overwinter perennials in a greenhouse or another warm location where plants won’t fall dormant because all perennials need a time of dormancy or a cold treatment to blossom.
  • If you are overwintering your containers outdoors, arrange them together as closely as you can in a protected spot on the ground. In this manner, the soil’s heat and moisture can be absorbed by the pots. A excellent location is often on the east side of the home. Never store the containers over the winter on a deck, paved area, or any other surface that is elevated from the ground. Perennials in containers that are exposed on higher levels throughout the winter have a poor probability of successfully overwintering.
  • The pots will require some form of insulating material to be placed on top of them. Try piling evergreen boughs or leaves on top of the pots, then cover everything with a heavy blanket of snow. Use an insulating blanket designed specifically for this if snowfall is unreliable where you live. For further security, you may also consider wrapping the pots themselves in an insulating material.

Which plants can withstand the winter in containers?

The 12 Best Potted Winter Plants

  • Violas.
  • Pansies.
  • Erica C├írdena
  • Germaine procumbens.
  • Clivia.
  • Hellebores.
  • Sedum.
  • Boxwood.

Will Covering Plants With Plastic Protect From Frost?

Some frost protection can be provided by covering plants with plastic, but the plastic must not touch the plants or the foliage. Use stakes or canes to create a structure over the plant to support the plastic in order to protect your plant from cold. To keep your plants warm, you are essentially building a tiny greenhouse or polytunnel!

At What Temperature Should I Cover My Plants?

If you want your plant cover to rescue your garden, timing is essential! Use your plant cover if it appears that the temperature will drop below freezing. It is recommended to err on the side of caution in this situation because the forecast is not always reliable.

Temperatures of 32 degrees and lower severely harm even the most delicate plants, such as tomatoes. While certain hardier plants, like spinach and chard, may withstand a light frost, temperatures below 28 degrees will cause them to die.

What Can I Cover My Plants With Safely?

Cloth, frost sheets, and light blankets are all effective. It may be a good idea to cover your plants overnight if you are concerned about the possibility of frost damage. The best cover material will increase the surrounding air temperature by several degrees, thus increasing the plants’ chances of survival.

The good news is that you might be able to use things you already have around the house or repurpose something meant for another use to cover your plants.

Can You Use Garbage Bags to Cover Plants?

Yes, provided you securely secure the plant. Garbage bags can be used to cover plants and shield them from frost, but they must not touch the surface of the plants. Create a tent-like structure over the plant using poles and supports to trap warm air. Make sure the trash bag reaches the ground completely.

During the day, remove the bags. Quick removal avoids humidity buildup and enables the plant to absorb heat from the sun.