Winter Care for Perennial Plants


Perennial flowers and plants have few maintenance needs and provide beauty in your garden for years. In cold climates (north of zone 6), perennials need winter protection, especially if you live in an area with repeated freeze and thaw cycles. Don't cut perennials back until late winter. The dead stalks provide shelter and food for birds, as well as insulation for the perennials' roots.

Step 1

Apply a 2-inch layer of mulch in late fall before the first freeze to your perennial garden. Mulch protects the roots of your perennials and prevents the plants from being heaved out of the soil by repeated freezes and thaws. Remove the mulch in late spring before new growth emerges.

Step 2

Wrap burlap around the base of roses, or mound soil 3 to 4 inches up around the plant. Bring tender perennials like dahlias or potted perennials indoors and store in a dark, cool place.

Step 3

Cut back dead stems in late winter with hand pruning shears as new growth is emerging. Throw away old growth to prevent disease.

Things You'll Need

  • Natural mulch (wood chips, straw or dead leaves)
  • Burlap
  • Hand pruning shears


  • University of Illinois Extension: Fall and Winter Care
  • Best Gardening: Winter in the Garden

Who Can Help

  • The United States National Arboretum: USDA Hardiness Zone Map
  • National Gardening Association: Plant Your Perennials High
Keywords: winter perennials, winter perennial care, growing perennials

About this Author

Julie Christensen has been writing professionally since 2001. She is a full-time freelance writer and former teacher with writing credits from several regional and national publications, such as Colorado Parent and LDS Living. She specializes in parenting, education and gardening topics. Christensen studied early childhood education at Ricks College, and spent 20 years as a teacher and director in university and public school settings.