WWhile it’s generally easy to care for outdoor plants in the summer and spring — or in places with temperate or warmer climates year-round — it’s still quite possible to keep yours alive long enough for a See a new growing season when temperatures begin to drop by following some of the best tips for winter plant care.
That’s why we asked a professional green thumb how you can help your outdoor plant survive during the cold months. These are his go-to practices for doing just that.
1. Beware of Excess Water Accumulation
“Plants can often survive sub-zero temperatures, but only if their roots are well-drained, because when water gets in the roots, it rots them,” said Clive Harris, garden expert and founder of DIY Garden, one of the industry’s leading companies. United Kingdom. gardening blogs, adding that it is common for plants to be watered in winter when there is less sunlight. “It’s the main reason plants die in winter — not the cold,” he says. As a result, it’s best to drain your plants regularly, or wait longer than usual between waterings if you’ve had a lot of rain or snow.
2. Keep plants out of extreme cold and precipitation if possible
“Plants have a lot of fluid in their cells, which can freeze, and then ice crystals can pierce membranes, effectively killing the plant,” Harris says. Overwatered plants are more prone to frost splitting, so be sure to water them only as needed and drain after exposure to heavy rainfall, and bring outdoor plants indoors if you can before major freezes occur.
3. Prepare your plants for temperature drops earlier in the year
“Unhealthy plants are more susceptible to disease and winter weather because weak plants simply cannot withstand freezing temperatures, high winds and icy rains,” Harris says. So give your plants regular hydration and nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, all of which are found in healthy soil (along with carbon, hydrogen and oxygen). “Don’t let them dry out and give them liquid plant food in the spring,” Harris says. “Good care throughout the growing season ensures that plants are healthy enough to withstand the winter,”
4. Do a mulch application
A thick layer of mulch can be an important boost to plant health and safety during a chilly fall and especially during winter when there is potential exposure to snow and frost. “An application of mulch, such as finished compost or organic matter, soaks up excess rainwater at the beginning of winter and prevents your plants from being flooded and then freezing,” says Harris.
5. Consider Your Zone Before Planting
Unfortunately, not all the plants you want to keep in your garden will do well in your particular climate and zone. (To find yours, check out the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map.) “Plants are imported from all over the world, and non-native plants may not suit your local conditions,” Harris says.
So while it may be disappointing at the moment, it’s best to follow the rules and avoid wasting the time, energy, money and emotional pain buying plants that ultimately aren’t right for your area. Instead, plant something more likely to thrive and live longer from the get-go.
6. Choose native plants for less maintenance
If you know you don’t have much time to care for your plants, picking plants that require less attention and care will ensure a longer life. In the same way that you might choose plants based on the USDA zone you live in (see above), you should also go for plants native to your area to ensure they thrive year-round with minimal effort. from your side .
“When selecting plants at the nursery, choose native plants that will withstand the local winter conditions, as native plants can often be left without special winter care simply because they are right for the area,” says Harris. †
7. Plant in the ground instead of a container if you can
Imagine a plant with its roots in the ground. The soil provides a thick blanket of insulation and allows water to drain, preventing excess moisture while still keeping the plant adequately hydrated.
In contrast, “plants in a container don’t have this protection and are more susceptible to waterlogging. Then cold temperatures can attack them from the sides and below, simply because the containers just aren’t warm enough,” says Harris.
8. Avoid planting in spring until after the last frost
One of the best tips for winter plant care is just getting the timing right in the spring. “Roots need warm, moist soil to grow and spread, and they can’t in the cold, hard soil, so wait for it to warm up a bit,” Harris says.
9. Protect your plants from frost
Frost will damage plant cells and, again, contribute to waterlogging, which will quickly kill plants. So if frost is present, you should not only wait to plant new seeds, but also take care of the plants you already have in the ground or in containers by protecting them from exposure.
Use covers, such as plant covers and tunnels, if you are working with a larger area. Or make your own instead of buying them online. “You can make covers out of plastic milk cartons, as long as you wash them thoroughly,” says Harris. “Cut off the end of the lid and place it over a tender plant. It stops frost from forming on the plant and prevents cell breakage,” he says.
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