Winter Plant Protection – Keeping Plants Safe From Frost And Cold

By Nikki Tilley | December 27, 2021
by Nikki Tilley
December 27, 2021

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.

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  • Jack
    Comment added March 10, 2022Reply

    You state at the get-go, luckily our winters do not get too awfully bad. I don't know where you are.

  • Tess
    Comment added February 17, 2022Reply

    I subscribed and loves it when I get something from you in my email, so thank you for all the information I gain with your website. So I was unprepared when suddenly snow came and was only able to save some of my plants. That was around Christmas time, it is now Feb and the weather is still cold outside but. I live in Pacific NW (zone 8B or 8) most of my succulents and other plants that I left outside are now dead. My question is, anyway I could revive most of my plants this spring? I asked that because I had foxgloves and Bearded Iris that for two years did not bloomed due to cold weather but somehow last year I had several flowers that blossomed, maybe because we had a good summer heat.

  • ann harford
    Comment added January 30, 2022Reply

    hello your app is invaluable to me.as a senior with memory loss i need knowledge in my garden.this amazing app is my right hand.

    thank you

  • HAMEEDULLAH
    Comment added January 25, 2022Reply

    I AM ALREADY A SUBSCRIBER OF YOUR SITE. I HAVE BEEN MUCH BENEFITTED FROM YOUR ARTICLES ON DIFFERENT TOPICS. I COME FROM PAKISTAN.AND LIVING IN HOT AREA WHERE THE WEATHER MOSTLY REMAINS HOT FOR NEAR ABOUT 8 MONTHS.THE WINTER FALLS ONLY DURING MID OF DECEMBER TO THE END OF JANUARY. HENCE COLD IS NO PROBLEM . BUT MY PLANTS MOSTLY DIE DURING SUMMER SEASON MY SEASONAL VEGETATIVE PLANTS GET BURNT. HENCE GUIDE ME IF POSSIBLE WAYS TO SAVE MY PLANTS.

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