Winter is on its way. While you might be able to shelter your potted plants in the garage or basement, the rest of your garden will be exposed to the brunt of the cold. Defend your plants from the elements with these time-tested tips.
A few days before the predicted freeze, water the ground around the plants to keep the soil damp but not wet. This creates humidity, which slows temperature changes and allows the plants more time to enjoy the warmth. Water them again a few hours before the temperature is supposed to drop so plants have time to absorb the moisture before it gets too cold.
When temperatures aren’t expected to fall much, drape old sheets and blankets over your plants to trap the natural heat emitted from the soil. During gusty winds, use bricks or rocks to anchor everything down. If you choose to add an extra layer of plastic over the blankets and sheets for increased insulation, make sure the plastic doesn’t touch your plants or else the plants could stick to the moisture that gathers on the plastic and suffer further freeze damage. Remove the covers every morning or condensation could develop and later freeze, damaging the plant.
Severe cold snaps will likely destroy most – if not all – of the plant, but the root system can survive with a little extra warmth. Before temperatures drop, pile four to six inches of mulch or hay around the plant. If you want extra insurance, try filling leftover milk jugs with warm water and embedding them in the mulch at night.
Another option is to create an insulation barrier. Start by tying up stems with twine to minimize the plant’s circumference. Next, drive stakes into the ground around the plant, fill the area with mulch or hay and cover it all with burlap. Just remember to remove everything after the freeze passes so that sunlight can reach the plant.
Stay tuned to your local weather station, keep your plants warm, water them when you can and you’ll see plenty of green next spring!