With cold winter approaching, every expert gardener should be ready to face the challenges of hard frost and snow that will be present. And you know that this is one of many tough challenges to face. While it is true that some plants look very beautiful with snow and frost, it is undeniable that tender plants cannot take such extremes and need to be looked at.
Frost can easily damage the cells of plants by freezing the water in them. Plants that are damaged in such way are immediately seen, as their growth is usually blackened, limp and distorted. When plants defrost quickly, cells rupture, and inevitable damage occurs. Many plants can live through the winter frost and actually require the lower temperatures and winter’s dormancy to sprout when blooming season comes, but this is not always the case, so other plants require extra care. This is why garden care should be provided even to hardy plants. Here is what you can consider in that regard:
- Think prevention, not cure – your garden care efforts will be far more effective if you focus on preventing the negative effects of cold on your plants rather than trying to fix them after they get damaged. With that in mind, if you live in an area with outlined cold weather, you should try to acquire plants that can withstand cold temperatures and are not tender. Don’t overdo it with fertilizers rich in nitrogen content, for it will encourage sappy leafy growth that is particularly vulnerable to cold. Don’t prune the old growth of plants as it can save the central crown from the brunt of frost damage. See to it that you give your plants some sort of shelter and never plant them in the lowest point of your garden as that’s where frost pockets occur. In summary, keeping the plants away from the frost will definitely let them live to the next day and tell about your reliable gardening skills.
- Plant protection – you will need to carefully consider what methods of protection you use to keep your plants from getting damaged in winter. A fleece-covered frame can be introduced to protect plants in the open. A layer of mulch around the base of evergreen plants goes a long way in terms of ensuring enough moisture for the plants. Consider planting your tender plants in pots so that you can easily move them inside during the cold. Always go for frost-proof containers to use in your gardening efforts. Otherwise you will have to lift the containers on various pot feet or wrap them in bubble wrap to prevent freezing. Making a structure for the plants is also one solution, though it requires a lot of effort and is something you should be doing before winter starts, otherwise it would be too cold to deal with it.
- Take care of frosted plants – sometimes even your best garden care efforts may not be enough to prevent plants from freezing. When this happens, you need to make sure you minimize the damage to some extent. Try to avoid exposing plants to morning sun, as quick defrost can damage them further. Covering with black plastic should be enough. Frosted growth should be cut back in spring to a new bud. This will prevent die back and provide new shoots. Introduce a balanced fertilizer to damaged plants to support growth. If the plants are planted in a portable place, you can also move it to a place with more shelter till the plant defrosts by itself and hopefully it will still be alive.
- Take care in the snow – snow is not necessarily bad for your plants. In fact, it provides insulation from the cold and frost, and it adds to the winter’s dormancy along with giving your plants the water they need to survive in the future. However, too much snow can break the branches if it starts piling up, as it adds weight. Make sure you shake it off branches and shrubs regularly, to prevent disfiguration. Also remove the snow from the top of greenhouses and cold frames, to prevent bending of the structures. As you do your gardening in winter, avoid stepping on snow-covered grass for this might damage the turf and increase the list of lawn care chores.
Follow all of these tips to ensure your plants make it through the cold winter. Provide enough effort and time in preserving your garden during the cold months of the year, and they will be well enough to survive the cold weather and the harsh season, and will use the frosts only as a period of dormancy before they flourish. Stay ahead of winter gardening needs and you will once again enjoy the company of your plants in the spring.