9 Clever Ways To Protect Your Plants In Winter
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9 Clever Ways To Protect Your Plants In Winter

Winter is on the horizon, so it’s time to start thinking about how best to prep your plants for the cold.

Whether your outdoor plants are in the ground or in pots and planters, there are some things you can do to help them survive until next spring.

Understand Your Growing Zone

Dried Leaf Cover by Snow at Daytime
Image credits: Ginny via Pexels

The conditions in your area can make or break plant survival, so it’s essential to check what zone you live in. This will help you determine if the plant varieties you have actually will make it through the winter; You don’t want your efforts to be in vain.

This, of course, is best to do before you plant anything, but it can also help you determine which already established plants can be saved. Some plant aren’t winter hardy and will need to be brought inside for survival.

Make a note of your winter climate and find out how much cold your plants can take before being irreversibly harmed.


wood bark mulch
Image credits: RyanKingArt via Pixabay

Whether you hate or love the look of mulch, it can actually be a very helpful protective layer between your plants and the elements. Mulch can act as an insulator, keeping the roots at a reasonable temperature through the winter months. Different plants may benefit from different kinds of mulch, but using organic matter is a good starting point for winter mulching. Trees and shrubs that have been recently planted need a good layer, about 3 to 4 inches, to be adequately protected from harsher winter conditions.

If you live in an area that thaws and freezes repeatedly through the winter, add more mulch.

You can keep the mulch year-round if it fits your vibe or clear it out when spring circles back around. Just remember, eventually, you will have to replenish the mulch.

Watering Your Plants Well Before the Frost 

watering gooseberry plants with watering can
Image credits: AnnaWaldl via Pixabay

Did you know that wet soil maintains a warmer temperature than dry soil? Providing your plants with a healthy drink before the first frost rolls around is a great way to help insulate them.

The bitter cold penetrates dry soil more easily than it does moist soil, giving your plants a better chance of survival. So, reward your plants with a good soak before the ground freezes to protect the roots.

Fill Cracks in the Soil

dry soil with cracks in it
Image credits: Maky_Orel via Pixabay

If you notice cracks forming around the base of your trees or shrubs, fill them in with soil. Those cracks give openings for frost to permeate and kill the roots of your plants. After the cracks are filled, you can water your plants so long as the ground isn’t frozen.

Prune Your Trees and Shrubs

Pruning Rose Canes
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Snow and ice can cause damage to the bigger plants in your yard, even if they seem sturdy. Pruning your trees and shrubs appropriately ensures the strength and health of the plants, helping them fight the frigid conditions and the weight of the snow and ice.

However, it’s important to know which plants will benefit and which will not from late fall pruning. Common abelia, sweet pepperbush, ninebark, and panicle hydrangea all benefit from one final prune of the season. On the other end of the spectrum, mophead hydrangea, mountain laurel, and azaleas are among the plants that won’t benefit from a late-season trim.

Wrap Your Plants

rose bushes wrapped in burlap for winter
Image credits: Hans via Pixabay

Wrapping your plants will protect them from the cold air, sidewalk salt, and snow and ice.

Shield any low-lying plants you may have that are at risk of being sprayed or splashed by sidewalk salt. You can build a row cover tunnel or invest in or DIY a longer-term solution, like cold frames. Cold frames are basically mini houses that close around your plants to protect them.

If you have young trees, you can wrap them together using burlap and twine. Wrapping them together helps distribute the weight of fresh snow, limiting the chances of major damage. You can wrap older trees individually or together, whatever makes sense for your yard.

Mound Them

Autumn rose care and winterizing. Mounding pruned roses with soil and mulch to protect rose bush from hard frosts in winter.
Image credits: Radovan1 via Shutterstock

Mounding is often associated with roses but can work for other woody plants as well. For this technique to work, you must build up a soil mound around the base of the plant. It should be about 10 to 12 inches for taller plants. The soil in the mound should be well drained. The mound will help insulate the base of the plant and protect against big temperature swings.

The best time to mound is after the first freeze and after you’ve done your last round of pruning for the year.

Move Your Potted Plants onto Soil

potted petunias outside
Image credits: CongerDesign via Pixabay

This doesn’t mean transplanting your potted plants for the winter. It simply means placing your pots on soil instead of your paved patio. Soil holds heat better than pavement over the winter and can help provide warmth to the roots of your potted plant. You can also mulch, mound, and wrap these plants if you want an added layer of protection.

Take Potted Plants Inside

potted pants inside indoors
Image credits: Pexels via Pixabay

This isn’t going to be a viable solution for every potted plant you have. But it may just work for some smaller ones if you have the space inside your home. If you know certain plants won’t make it through the winter, like snake plants, it’s not a bad idea to give them a comfortable, temperature-controlled life inside for a few months.

Protect Your Plants

Protecting plants in winter, it’s crucial if you want them to thrive in the spring. If you do not take care of that, your garden may be in a deplorable condition next season. However, with a few of these techniques put into practice, it will pop back up beautifully, and you will be able to enjoy its charms and flavors.

Do you have any other tips for protecting your plants over winter? Drop them in the comments below!