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How to Protect Plants in Winter? Easy Methods!

While most perennials can withstand prolonged cold spells, some require more insulation and covering. 

Provide a layer of mulch, winter watering, and trunk wrapping with covers for outdoor plants, and bring them inside if the situation worsens outside. Besides, you need to create temporary cold frames for outdoor plants and withdraw the potted plants from snowy windowsills. 

Plant cells freeze, their tissue dies, and eventually, the plant succumbs to harsh winter snow. So, you must groom plants to survive and thrive in the coming years.

What Plants Need Winter Protection?

Delicate bulb flowers, dainty trees, shrubs, and annual and tropical plant demand to get ahead of the winter.

1. Annual Plants

Most annual plants only bloom for a season and die during the winter. They produce seeds that can be grown in spring and summer.

The roots of annuals like snapdragons, crabgrass, and petunias don’t go deep enough. They are relatively shallow, like tropical plants.

Most annuals are subjected to winter kill when the temperature drops below 50 degrees.

Plant in snow
Houseplant Covered in Snow

The frozen shallow roots of annuals in winter become incompetent to fetch nutrients and water from deep inside, opposite to what a plant requires.

Frost injuries are detrimental to annual; welcoming them home can protract our plant’s life beyond a single season.

2. Tender Bulb Flowers

Before going overboard with bulbs in the garden, you must know that almost all bulbs prefer summer. 

Summer-blooming bulb plants, including the flowering begonias, dahlias, gladiolus, and canna lilies, won’t survive cold winters if you do not protect them. 

When the temperature drops below 32°F for extended periods, the summer-planted bulb is severely damaged.

Container-planted bulb roots may get through slight temperature changes. However, randomly keeping them in a shed or garden is not ideal for affray surface hoars.

Store the bulb in a room, basement, or closet to achieve a long-lasting garden on a budget.  

3. Delicate Trees

Younger trees and shrubs in the ground for only a season are vulnerable to upcoming winters. 

Newly planted trees do not have broad, established root systems, and their barks are not mature and thick. Young plants and trees give up, unable to cope with the winter stresses. 

The branches of the fledging plant break down, impotent to bear the snow pile. 

The intense winter sun on the southeast side softens the plant cells frozen during the night. Constant thawing and freezing cracks and ruptures the immature trunks. 

Naturally, plants tend to go dormant for their safety; sunscald and winter burns are immiscible.  

How to Know if Plants Need Winter Protection?

Primarily, you know it’s time to prepare your plant for winter as cold chills begin.

The plant’s life stage and temperature zone determine whether or not to cover them up. They show various signs of distress around the winter solstice. 

Protecting plants in winter
 As soon as the winter hits, you should focus on bringing the plants indoors.

A gardener needs to check the temperature in their areas regularly and know how winter kills their plants.

Advance alert of frost, snow, and weather extremes permits gardeners to save their plants and extend the growing season.

When the temperature drops below 50°F, you should act immediately.  Also, younger plants are not hardy enough for nearing crip winter. 

Curling of leaves, discoloration, and wilting are outcomes of the cold stress that they go through, whether the plants are outdoors or indoors.

Since your effort in a garden is weather-reliant, having prior notice of what Mother Nature’s forthcoming can help bring your garden ideas to life, from planting to harvesting.

Find in detail about the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone for ideal plant selection.

How to Protect Plants in Winter?

Many plants adopt the antifreeze method, which helps plants pump water out of cells into the roots and the leftover saps. This helps plants survive in the winter. 

Besides, there are many ways to protect your plant against winter worries. 

Gardeners recommend keeping their plants on a 3-season porch, which makes it easier for them to take care of them in winter.

Little effort beforehand can save your plant from imminent frosty weather danger and prevent you from being anxious. 

Protecting Outdoor Plants in Winter 

  • Shelter the plants inside your home during winter.
  • Wrap the plants with burlap clothes or a garden fleece to protect them from winter burn.
  • Add a layer of mulch, 3-5 inches thick, to prevent a disruptive freeze-thaw cycle and insulate soil temperature. 
  • Irrigate the garden once every month to fend off cold snaps and possible root damage during the dormant period.
  • Use fiberglass containers for planting as they are frost-resistant.
  • Set up a temporary cold frame to block out snow, frost, and ice piling up from the plants.

Fun Fact: In South Korea, people cover the street trees with knitted colorful sweaters, to protect them from winter under the “tree-hug” program.

Protecting Indoor Plants in Winter

  • Move your plants closer to the south-facing window to take advantage of limited daylight.
  • Cut back on watering as the plants require significantly less water.
  • Most houseplant rest in the winter, so pause fertilizer application.
  • Keep the plants away from radiators, hot air vents, and cold drafts to avoid temperature extremes.
  • Ramp up the humidity levels between 40-60%.
  • Avoid repotting the plants while they are dormant during the winter.

Should you Cover Plants in the Winter?

Well, it’s a ‘yes’ considering how the winter brings along the terror of pests, frost injuries, and many more.

In winter, the plants are more susceptible to pest attacks. Moreover, external chills are extreme for plants to withstand them.

Covers like burlap cloth, frost blankets, or cold frames create a barrier among plants and surroundings, essential to protect the greens from cold snaps and winter frenzy.

The trunk exposed to harsh weather conditions ruptures from the constant fluctuation between day and night temperature.

The list below has the five best plant covers for winter.

Name Specification
Burlapper Burlap Garden Fabric40"x 30' jute cloth for wrapping plants in winter.

Can be used inside the greehouse also.
Creek plant coverFor hanging baskest, fruit bearing bushes.

Drawstring provided for proper adjustment.
Plumstone Shurb JacketFor protecting shrubs against snow and frost.
Garden ClocheFor covering young plants agains frost.

Creats miniature green house effect for the plants.
VegTrug Cold FrameShatterproof pollycarbonate frame used for minimum insulation.

Easy opening and can be used on theground.

How to Wrap Plants for Winter? [DIY Plant Covers for Winters]

Wrap outdoor potted plants in old blankets, burlap or anything that covers them. You need not wrap the roots, rather than complete houseplants.

For making a DIY plant cover, you’ll need a bucket or container, bubble wrap, and some stones from the garden.

  • First, take some bubble wrap and wrap it around your plant.
  • Cover the bubble-wrapped pot with a bucket or a container. The container has to be deep enough to cover the plant.
  • Place some stones over the bucket.
  • Make sure to lift the bucket in the morning after serving the purpose. 

If you own a Rubber plant, you might want to read about how to protect Rubber plants in winter.

Wrapping Up

Winter is a monster to your garden and plants. 

However, they can battle if you arm them with some frost blankets or burlap cover, a layer of mulch, and a bit of attention.

Protection tips only work in tandem with each other.

Let’s start plant protection before the blazing winter arrives and save ourselves from returning to square one again.

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