Luckily, our winters don’t get too awfully bad. That’s not to say it doesn’t get cold here in my North Carolina garden. It can get bone-chilling cold, and it’s no picnic when it does. Winter plant protection isn’t always necessary but it never hurts to take precautions now and then.
Protecting Plants in the Garden
I’m not a fan of cool temps, so I can only imagine how my plants feel. It’s probably a good thing then that I choose plants hardy to my area. There’s little need to protect them once the chilly season hits because they’re less likely to suffer any real damage. That being said, keeping plants safe from frost and cold is sometimes necessary so I do provide a little added winter plant protection as needed.
My pre-winter care generally consists of nothing more than some leaf mulch. When we get the fall leaves of the lawn, the smaller, cut-up pieces from the mower are used in the garden beds, providing not only another layer of winter protection, but the leaves also break down, giving the beds additional nutrients.
Most of the perennials in my garden die back long before winter strikes. And although it may not be too pretty, I typically leave the dead growth on a number of them throughout the winter season. Coneflowers, for instance, don’t get pruned back once the final blooms die off. Instead, their brown stalks and faded tops are left in place, swaying in the wintry breeze and beckoning the birds to stop by. Same goes for the sedums, liatris, mums and many others. The neighbors may not appreciate this, but the wildlife and birds sure do, as well as my plants. It’s an extra layer of protection for the plants and a source of food and shelter for the critters.
I’m okay with the not-so-spectacular, unkempt look during this time. And it generally stays this way well into spring, at least until the threat of any frost or freeze is over. Snow doesn’t worry me. In fact, it usually provides added insulation and the hardy early spring bloomers don’t seem to mind the snow either, joyfully pushing their way up through the cool white carpet.
There are many ways of protecting plants in the garden. It all really depends on where that garden is and the types of plants grown there. I prefer sticking with plants for my hardiness zone, and for any outside of this, I simply bring inside or keep the hardier ones in the greenhouse until the return of warm spring days.