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Tips for Winter Protecting your Plants

Although this information may be a little late, I thought I would mention some of the steps that can be taken to protect your plants from Extreme Cold Temperatures.

First of all, plants have the natural ability to protect themselves by the means of dormancy, also called hardened off. This is a slow process that starts in fall when temperatures begin to drop. At this time the moisture within the top portion of a plant is transferred to the root system.
Two things happen in this process, the lack of excess water in the stems keeps the plant cells from exploding when they freeze. Just like water pipes, if the pipe is dry or has very little water in it, it won't freeze solid and burst. Secondly, the water also called plant sugars or starches is stored in the roots and used to nourish the plant next spring.

Since plants have the ability to protect themselves naturally in normal conditions for that plant, we don’t have to worry much about them.
It is when conditions are not normal for a plant, when problems can occur. Plants outside their recommended cold hardiness zone and even plants planted within the correct zone, can have problems if the temperatures fall below what is normal for that zone. This is where extra efforts can pay off to protect your plants.

Also note: Root systems are generally 2 zones less hardy than the above ground part of the plant. So protecting the roots with mulch helps buffer and reduce the range of temperature extremes.

There are many new plants introduced each year. Unfortunately extensive cold hardiness testing does not exist for many of them. As breeders breed for more attractive flowers other characteristics like cold hardiness can be compromised. This can occur when the plant spends all its energy making beautiful flowers, and the factory part of the plant the leaves, are not as well developed as in the natural species that has good cold tolerance.

Plants that have been growing in your garden for many years will most likely survive anything thrown at them.
If you have new plant varieties that is where protection can be beneficial.

Tips to help protect plant during winter.

  • Most importantly make sure the soil has moisture. Even though the plant is not growing, roots will dehydrate and die if the surrounding soil has less moisture than the root, this is known as freeze drying.
  • Protect landscape plants during extreme cold spells with containers like large buckets or boxes. Do not wrap the plant or tree with plastic, this will actually do more harm to stems that come in contact with the plastic, a blanket will work much better. Keep in mind if snow or ice is in the forecast they will collect on wrapped plants and can weight them down resulting in breakage.
  • Bring deck or container plants into a cool garage for protection, although protect from freezing.
  • A layer of snow covering a plant is good insulation from extreme temperatures and wind.
  • Avoid pruning in early spring until you are sure freezing temperatures are over for your area. Early spring pruning will trigger plants into growing as soon as temperatures begin to warm. This can cause sugars to be transferred to stems, which can freeze cells and damage or kill plants.
  • Keep evergreen plants like Arborvitea, Boxwood, Junipers, and Hollies  well watered throughout the winter, they always need moisture.

I hope this helps your plants survive this winter. If you have any questions feel free to contact us we will do our best to answer your questions.

 
 

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Thank you much. So excited to get started on these blue hollies. By the way, I've had great results from the Winterberries and the Washington Hawthorn Tree I purchased from you several years ago. You guys are awesome. Thanks again.


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