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Winter Plant Protection

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September 3, 2019

The freezing temperatures we know are coming are a stark reminder that winter has arrived today on Southern Gardening. 

The dip in temperature reminds us that we need to provide winter protection for some of our landscape and garden plants.  Here are some tips to help ward off some of old man winter’s chill. 

One of the best things you can do is to have a good layer of mulch and to water thoroughly.  The mulch acts as a blanket on top of the root system insulating the roots.  Maintaining adequate soil moisture is just as important in winter as during the summer months.  This is especially true for plants grown in containers.  The moisture in the potting mix acts as a buffer to falling temperatures. 

Plants grown in containers have the advantage of being portable and an easy solution is moving the plants into the garage.  Or simply placing the plants up against the house will provide some protection. 

Landscape plants can be covered using old sheets, plastic sheeting, or even cardboard boxes.  This provides a surface for the frost instead of the plant foliage.  Plant foliage should not touch the covering as the cold can be readily transferred through.  Remember the covering needs to be opened during sunny days.  Vegetable gardens can be protected in much the same way.  Using ½” PVC pipe and plastic sheeting simple hoop structures can be erected to act like greenhouses. 

Even with providing cold weather protection, plant injury can occur from freezing temperatures.  Don’t be in a rush to prune these plants immediately after a freeze.  Be patient and look for damage when the plants start growing again next year.   I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.

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