Protecting Plants From Frigid Temps

By Amy Grant | March 3, 2022
Image by pjhpix
by Amy Grant
March 3, 2022

I love my plants as much as I love my fur babies. So just like I worry about my pets, so too do I fret over the health of my outdoor plants when winter temps take a dip. 

Luckily, I have parents with a property that is surrounded with trees. How do their trees help me protect my plants from Old Man Winter? In the fall we have The Great Fall Rake Up. Actually we have several of them since there are LOTS of trees. 

Leaf Mulch

At this time, we also mow up a good bit of the leaf haul to make leaf mulch — great stuff! I then go home and pile a good 6 or more inches (15+ cm.) of this leaf mulch atop my plants. I do this in the late fall when freezing temperatures have already hit but we’ve not had a hard freeze yet. The plants are already in stasis for the season. 

In the spring, I gently remove the leaf mulch from around my perennials. I add surfeit mulch to our municipal compost bin while the rest just gets dug in around the plants to further nourish them. 

I’m in USDA zone 6, which also means lifting tender bulbs such as canna and dahlia that we store in peat moss in a cool area of the basement. My container grown trees stay outside but under a covered patio, against the house and also protected with a thick layer of leaf mulch. 

So far so good.

Protecting Plants From Cold

I have lost plants, but not in any great profusion. The leaf mulch does double duty as a protector and then nourishes the plants. 

By the way, you can also use pine needles (and I have) of which we have aplenty in this area. Just be sure to run a mower over them to break them up before using them for mulch. Pine needles have a waxy coating that makes it difficult for bacteria and fungi to tackle which means they break down very slowly.

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