How to Protect Plants in Winter

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How to Protect Plants in Winter

How to Protect Plants in Winter

Protect your plant babies
How to Protect Plants in Winter

Евгений Харитонов/iStock via Getty Images

Gardening can be a lot of work for rookies and veterans alike, especially when it comes to protecting your plants from the elements. Whether you have a small apple orchard in your backyard or a miniature vegetable garden on your kitchen windowsill, there are different precautions you must take in order to prepare your plants for the changing seasons. Here are some tips on how to get your plants ready for winter.

Take advantage of fallen leaves

Take advantage of fallen leaves

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When fall comes around, the leaves start to change color and then eventually fall to the ground. You can rake up those leaves and use them to help protect your plants during the winter. Break up the leaves into pieces using a mulching mower and add them to your compost pile or use them as mulch.

Mulch the soil

Mulch the soil

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Mulching is an important step to help your plants get through the winter, especially if you live in one of the states that get the most snowfall. Frost can cause plants to get pushed out of the ground. You can add a 6-inch-thick layer of chopped leaves, straw or other mulch to prevent the plants from coming out of the ground and to help even out the soil temperature.

Compost dead flowers

Compost dead flowers

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You’ve enjoyed the beautiful spring flowers during the warmer months of the year, and now those flowers are beginning to lose their luster as the weather cools down. After the first frost blackens the flower’s foliage, add it to your compost pile. But make sure the plants aren’t diseased, otherwise, it may spread through your compost.

Leave on dead leaves

Leave on dead leaves

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Dead leaves aren’t always a bad thing. It may be helpful to some plants to leave on their dead leaves to help protect their crowns and roots from the cold.

Replace warm-season annuals for cool-season annuals

Replace warm-season annuals for cool-season annuals

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There are many things you should know about how the weather can affect your garden. While warm-season annuals such as French marigolds and zinnias grow and bloom in warmer temperatures, cool-season annuals such as pansies and snapdragons prefer to grow and bloom when temperatures are cooler. It would be best to swap these annuals to keep your garden colorful throughout all seasons.

Move potted plants to shelter spots

Move potted plants to shelter spots

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For some potted plants, you need to move them into areas that will protect them from winter. For example, you should move potted chrysanthemums to a sheltered spot after their flowers fade. Make sure to water them well and cover them in a thick layer of straw.

Dig up and store tender bulbs

Dig up and store tender bulbs

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There are some plants that are more delicate than others and can’t withstand being outside during winter. It’s best to dig up tender bulbs such as dahlias if you live where the ground freezes.

Store away bulbs for next spring

Store away bulbs for next spring

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You can store plants for another year by cutting off their leaves and brushing off excess soil. Let them dry off for a week in a cool spot before packing them away in a breathable container like a cardboard box. Cover them in sawdust or newspapers so the bulbs don’t touch, and store them in a location that won’t freeze but will stay below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Give enough water during the fall

Give enough water during the fall

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While you admire the gorgeous fall foliage, make sure to water all of your perennials and flowering shrubs well during the autumn months. Plants will survive and thrive if they go into winter well-hydrated.

Cover flower beds

Cover flower beds

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There are plenty of gardening tips beginners should know, including that you should cover your flower beds during the winter. Using mulch or heavy plastic to cover your flower bed can discourage weed growth when the ground warms up in the spring.

Move house plants back inside

Move house plants back inside

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You may like to bring your houseplants outside to enjoy the summer sun, but make sure to bring them back inside once the weather cools down. Most houseplants are tropical by nature so they can’t handle freezing temperatures. If your plants bloom between early spring and late June, then you should move them inside early fall. If they bloom in late June, then move them early spring.

Prune or trim tropical plants before winter

Prune or trim tropical plants before winter

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A great indoor gardening tip is to prune or trim your tropical plants during the late summer before moving them indoors during fall. Cut all of the branches by a third but make sure that each remaining stem has two or three leaf nodes left.

Cut back on fertilizing

Cut back on fertilizing

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You should stop fertilizing your tropical plants once the summer starts to wind down. This is to stop new growth from dying after you move it inside your home.

Make sure your home can accommodate your plants

Make sure your home can accommodate your plants

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Before bringing your garden inside, make sure your home is suitable for your plants’ needs. If you own plants that enjoy sunshine, ensure they are placed near windows that receive a lot of sunlight.

Check on your plants regularly

Check on your plants regularly

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Throughout winter, it’s important to give your plants regular checkups every week. This allows you to look out for signs of disease and pests. You may not find some of the most dangerous bugs in the world on your plant, but mealybugs and spider mites are common pests that can attack your plants, especially when the air is warm and dry. To prevent this, give your plants a daily misting or spray with warm water once a week.

Monitor your house temperature

Monitor your house temperature

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It’s important to manage the temperatures around your home and keep your house plants away from heat ducts or airways. During the daytime, it’s best for temperatures to stay between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, while at nighttime, between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit is best.

Protect small trees and shrubs from the cold

Protect small trees and shrubs from the cold

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Small plants aren’t the only things that need protection during the winter. Small trees and shrubs need to be shielded from freezing temperatures, especially if you live in one of the coldest cities in the world. Surround them with a cylinder of snow fencing and packing straw or place shredded leaves in the cylinder.

Protect trees from animals

Protect trees from animals

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Small animals like mice, rabbits and voles love to eat the bark of small trees during winter. Prevent this from happening by wrapping your saplings with chicken wire or a plastic tree guard.

Take cuttings of existing plants

Take cuttings of existing plants

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If it is not possible to bring your plants inside before winter, take cuttings from your existing plant to grow for next spring. You can also create a small hydroponic garden to help your plant cutting grow.

Protect from sun scald

Protect from sun scald

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Sun scald happens when the tree’s bark is sunken, cracked and dried on the southwest side of your tree. Typically it happens on clear, cold days during the winter months. The sun stimulates growth cells on one side of the tree but they die as soon as the sun disappears and the temperature lowers. Plastic tree guards can help protect young trees from sun scald.

Place plants near each other

Place plants near each other

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Placing your plants near each other will help them grow successfully. By being near each other, the plants can create their own microclimate from the slow evaporation of moisture from their soil. If you’re looking for other winter gardening projects, you can use household items to beautify your garden.

 

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