How to Prep Plants for Winter and Cooler Temps
One of the most popular questions we get via the “Ask an Expert” feature in the PlantTAGG app – especially this time of year – is about how best to prep plants for the winter season.
There’s no doubt that weather can impact your plants significantly. We talked about it on the blog earlier this year here.
Of course, your location plays a significant role in your garden winterization plan. But even here in Dallas, where it can be challenging to garden in the summer heat, temperatures can drop below freezing. As the cooler temps roll in, it’s time to give your plants some extra care.
Four considerations to help prepare plants for the cooler temps:
1 – Move Potted Plants Inside to Prepare for Cooler Temps
For container gardens or potted plants that you can bring inside from the elements, now is a great time. You can move the plants into a garage or other protected space when temperatures dip into the 40s overnight. Additionally, anything categorized as “Tropical” should be brought inside or undercover if possible.
2 – Use Mulch to Protect Plants from Freezing
Generally speaking, perennials that are hardy in your areas won’t require much preparation for the colder months. If your city tends to drop below freezing, the easiest and fastest way to prep plants for colder temps is to use mulch. Using mulch offers many benefits: it can help your plants grow, suppress weeds, add nutrients to the soil, retain soil moisture, and keep your plants cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It’s OK to cut perennials to the ground after the first frost, and then plan to add a 3-inch layer of mulch around the base of your plants to keep them warm.
The best type of mulch depends on your location, plant type, soil type, and weather. We discussed the different types of mulch and how to select the best one for your yard and garden earlier on the blog. Typically organic mulch varieties such as bark, straw, and pine needles, offer better protection from the cooler temps.
3 – Protect Plants from Frost using Fabric Cloths
Annuals live only one season and can’t survive freezing temperatures. Cool-season annuals such as ornamental kale and snapdragons typically fare better as they prefer to bloom in the cooler temps.
For young plants and warm-season annuals like impatiens or rosemary, you can extend their life by covering them with a fabric sheet to help regulate temperatures.
Additionally, winterizing your palm trees to protect them from cold damage is critical for most regions in the U.S. If your palm is small, you can cover it with a blanket for up to five days. Burlap works great for covering palms. If your palm is very large, you might want to call in a professional!
4 – Trim Trees to Prep Plants for Winter
To keep your trees and shrubs in tip-top shape through the winter, you might want to give them a trim. First, make sure they have plenty of water before the first freeze. Surround the bases with mulch as mentioned above. And then grab your shears. Trimming back any broken or dead limbs will allow the plants to save energy to make it through the cold temps.
A Little Prep Goes A Long Way
Prepping plants for winter is a simple way to keep your garden looking fresh and ready for a blooming spring in the new year. If you’re looking for additional gardening tips, be sure to set up your yard in the PlantTAGG app! It’s free to use with nothing to download or install — text “PLANTS” to 46376. With PlantTAGG, you’ll get customized plant care guidance, monthly text reminders, a local Ask an Expert feature, and more!