Protect your plants during the winter season

Cold winds and freezing temperatures can really do a number on some of the more sensitive plants. Annuals die off and many summer perennials will fade back, which is normal, but even the more cold tolerant species can use a little help getting through the cold season.

There are several things that can be done from items in the garden to insulate and guard tender plants. The Internet and garden supply stores are also alive with structures and fabrics to apply to plants for winter protection. It is important to protect plants well in advance of a frost which may end the life of the plant.

Easy method to protect your plants

One of the easiest and most common methods of providing protection is by mulching. Simply adding 1 to 3 inches of organic material over the root zone can prevent cold damage to the roots and crown of plants.

Using the plant's own foliage is also helpful in creating a barrier between the plant and cold air. Make a teepee out of dying fern fronds or gently lay the browning leaves of a calla or canna over the base of the plant to protect the bulbs.

Piling up raked leaves over cut back perennials will help make a blanket and insulate the plant for winter. Frost tender plants can be transplanted into containers and moved indoors.

Protective structure

Build structures out of chicken wire to hold frost protector fabric or blankets and create an igloo of coziness. Such a structure or cage can first be stuffed with straw as an insulator and then covered with a quilt or blanket. Remove the blanket during the day to allow photosynthesis to proceed.

This effective protection should be removed in early spring to allow leaves and buds to sprout. Almost any covering can be an effective temporary shelter for brief freezes. Cotton sheets, burlap, weed barrier fabric and old household textiles will seal in some heat and protect from topical ice crystals that burn sensitive leaves.

Get your material in advance

Prepare for winter by ordering or picking up necessary items to shelter cold tender plants. Frost protection fabric, poly tunnels, water walls, bubble wrap, and garden fleece are all handy items to have on hand when cold snaps threaten.

Before you cover up any plant, be sure to water it well, as moist soil is more protective to roots than dry earth. If there is no room indoors for sensitive potted plants, heal them in, container and all, and mound soil around the pot. Top with a heavy layer of mulch and tent frost protection fabric over the area.

Growing sensitive plants can take some preparation and planning, but with some simple tips, they can be saved from freezing temperatures and live to sprout again.