02 Dec 5 TIPS TO TAKE CARE OF POTTED PLANTS THROUGHOUT WINTER
Winter is tough on any plant, but it’s extra tough on container plants. Plants that are grown in pots can suffer significant root damage when exposed to cycles of fluctuating freeze-and-thaw cycles, even those known to be winter hardy in your area. To keep your potted plants thriving during the chill, follow these 5 tips!
5 QUICK TIPS FOR CARING FOR POTTED PLANTS IN THE WINTER:
Plant as soon as possible. Mature roots have a much better chance at surviving sudden dips in the temperature than do newly-planted ones, so do think ahead. I’ve seen this even with annuals – the seasonal flowers that I planted two weeks ago fared much better in our recent quick freeze than the ones planted three days prior. Want to be extra sure your plants will tolerate winter stress? Choose those that are hardy to two zones cooler (to the north) than your zone.
Go big. With your container, that is. The soil in a larger pot will do a better job at insulating the plant’s roots than soil in a tiny 1-gallon container. My large patio containers are about 2’ tall with a wall thickness of 1” – these jumbo pots won’t freeze as quickly as the smaller ones, and my plants thank me for it. Plus, big pots look better, so there’s that.
Put pots on soil when possible. Pavement absorbs the heat from the sun during the day, but cools off rapidly at night, particularly when there’s a freeze. In contrast, soil keeps its temperature more stable without rapid fluctuation, so containers placed on soil rather than pavement will fare better. For those containers that are always on the pavement, like my back patio containers, I simply cover them up with freeze cloth during a cold snap.
Water adequately. There’s typically less rainfall in the winter months, so your containers will depend upon you even more for their survival. Water during the day when temps are above freezing, and plan to water before a hard freeze or particularly windy conditions.
Provide protection. Remember, placing containers on the soil rather than pavement (Tip #3 above) is a great strategy, but if that’s not possible, group your pots together against the house with the most cold-hardy plantings on the outside of the grouping. Mulch the soil surface in the pots with straw, and plan to cover the grouping when the weather gets really cold. I like to use freeze cloth, making sure I cover the entire container, not just the plants on the top. I sometimes add a string of Christmas lights around them, too, which not only adds a bit of warmth but looks twinkly and seasonal as well.
See Also: SAVING POTTING SOIL OVER THE WINTER