The coming of winter can be bittersweet for some gardeners. You’re likely looking forward to some extra free time that would normally be spent on garden maintenance, but you also know that you have to get your fragile plants ready for the harsh conditions. We all know what it’s like to go out in the winter without a coat on, so imagine how it must feel for plants that are left exposed? Winter weather can be unpredictable, including unexpected freezes, dry, cold winds, and snowfall. All of these scenarios can harm your plants if you don’t make some adjustments beforehand. However, just a few simple modifications can prepare your garden to wait out the winter weather and be ready to bounce back come spring.
Utilize Proper Covers
Covering your plants before the freezing weather arrives is one of the simplest ways to give them a head start over the bitter temperatures. The only issue is that not all covers work well for all types of plants. For many hardy plant species, any blanket or sheet you have in the house will be enough protection from the cold and wind. If, however, you are lucky enough to have fruit trees or other plants that thrive in warmer climates, you may need to invest in specialized frost protection fabric, which can be found in most gardening stores and nurseries. A loose wrap of burlap also makes for an excellent protective covering in most circumstances.
Rely on Mulch for Nutrients
Throughout the spring and summer growing seasons, your plants are voraciously consuming nutrients from the soil in order to reach their potential. By the time winter arrives, they typically need to replenish the vital nutrients that were abundant during the warmer months. Autumn is the perfect time to remove used mulch from around the base of the plants and replace it with a new layer that will continue to replenish the soil as it decomposes.
Water Your Plants When Possible
Before the daytime temperatures begin to consistently drop below freezing, you will need to continue watering, even if it is less frequently than during the summer. Although the sun is not sapping moisture from the ground at the same rate, the dry conditions across much of the country during winter can leave plants thirsty for a drink. If you are careful to water your plants before a freeze, the moist soil will help protect the roots against freeze damage and keep them healthier for the spring.
Take Special Precautions for Potted Plants
Container plants face even more challenges during the winter, as extreme variations in temperature can wreak havoc on the root systems. Experts recommend that container plants be left on soil if they are going to remain outside, as it is more insulated from the extreme cold than hard surfaces. Also, try to keep your plants in a larger container during the winter, in order to better insulate the roots from the cold.