As we head into the colder months of the year, fragile plant life needs to be protected from the elements. By taking good care of our plants now, we can continue to enjoy beautiful gardens in the warmer months. With a few simple steps, you can ensure that your plants will be protected and safe from the harsh winter weather.
Bring Your Potted Plants Inside
One of the quickest and easiest ways to protect your fragile plants is to bring them indoors. This is particularly simple if you have potted and hanging plants. By storing them in your home or garage, you can ensure that they will flourish in the spring. Be sure to put them in a space that is a minimum of ten degrees Fahrenheit. If possible, place them near a window so that they will also be able to get the sunlight they need to survive. Be especially careful to keep them away from vents that could cause them to become too dry.
For the plants that are remaining outdoors, you can create your own insulation by applying a layer of mulch around them. The mulch will protect the root systems by keeping the moisture and heat inside the soil.
Cold winter weather often affects the soil, which in turns damages the roots of your plants. By adding mulch to the soil, you will keep your plants moist and warm. Pine and wheat mulch is a great option and is simple to remove in the spring.
Keep Your Plants Covered
Fragile plants can be protected from the elements by simply laying a tarp or cloth over them. Carefully place the covering over your plants and then spread the fabric so that it is not in contact with any of the branches or leaves. If necessary, use a few old stakes to hold the fabric off of the plant. This type of protection keeps the frost off of the delicate plants. You can remove the cloth during the day to allow air and light to get in.
Use a Cold Frame
You can easily build your own cold frame to protect your plants from the winter months with a few lightweight metal rods. You will need rods that are long enough to be bent into half circles that will cover your plants. Place the bent rods along your garden and push the ends into the soil to keep them secure. Lay clear sheeting over the metal loops to create a protective enclosure for your plants.
Cold frames keep the heat in and the frost out, and are one of the most effective tools for keeping plants protected throughout the winter. Be sure your covering provides your plants with enough ventilation. If necessary, open the covering on warmer days so that the plants won’t be exposed to excess moisture and won’t become overheated.
Provide a Heat Source
If the temperatures in your area are predicted to be exceptionally cold, you can provide some warmth to your plants by using an artificial heat source. Place your heat source inside your cold frame or tarp covering to warm the air and protect your plants. Be sure to use only certified exterior heat sources for this. Holiday lights are a good choice, as are 100 watt bulbs. Anything too hot could damage your plants, so be sure to check the wattage before placing them in your garden. The bulbs should not touch the plants as that could lead to a damaging burn. Make sure the extension cords you might use to power the lights are also safe for the outdoors. Uncover your plants and turn off the heat source during the day to provide enough ventilation. This will also help to prevent a fire from starting on an overheated light bulb.
Keep Your Plants Watered
Prior to cold and freezing nights, apply large amounts of water to the soil around your plants. It may sound puzzling, but wet soil traps heat better than dry soil. The water will also evaporate at a slower rate and warm the air near your plants.
This should only be done when you expect a little frost. Do it before a hard frost or when the soil is frozen as it could damage the root systems of your plants.
Visit Your Local Nursery
Take a visit to your local nursery and speak to a gardening expert about keeping your plants warm through the winter months. Knowing the weather conditions in your area, your nursery expert will be able to give you advice on protecting the plants you have and keeping them safe through harsh weather. He or she will also be able to give you advice on the best plants that are suited to the weather conditions in your area.