Taking Care of Outside Plants for Winter


During winter the weather fluctuates and can suddenly dip into freezing temperatures. The severe winter climate can damage plants with deadly frosts that break off stems and branches. Readying outdoor plants for winter is mandatory if you want them healthy come springtime. Depending upon the type of plant, maintenance could range from a minimum amount to regular daily care. Most plants enter a dormant stage during the cold winter months, but some plants such as evergreens do not. Tending to plants throughout the winter is a smart preventive step you'll be glad you took.

Step 1

Clean debris such as dead leaves from the garden with a rake. Remove dead flower tops, leaves, weeds and decayed foliage. Take markers and stakes out of the ground. Cut back branches and vines with pruning shears to ensure new growth for the next year. Trim perennial plants down to the ground.

Step 2

Dig up perennial bulbs and store them until next spring in a dry, cool place such as a garage. Relocate potted plants indoors to safeguard them from the chilly temperatures. Cover large container plants with cloth coverings and move them onto a deck or front porch.

Step 3

Spread mulch around shrubs, trees and perennial plant beds. Protect the roots of the plants and trees from the harsh winter weather by layering the mulch a couple inches in depth. Cover the plants in the garden with a cloth cover to help protect from the winter weather.

Step 4

Protect evergreen tree bark from cracking in the severe elements by wrapping burlap around the trunks of the trees. Prevent wind damage to evergreen plants and trees by creating wind breaks. Place three wooden stakes around the tree and wrap burlap around the stakes.

Tips and Warnings

  • Throw out any dead foliage or flowers. Do not use them as compost as they are likely to spread disease to your plants. Don't layer the mulch too thickly around tree trucks. Heavy mulch can cause the tree to suffocate and die. Do not use plastic coverings on plants. The plastic will act like a greenhouse when the sun is out and heat up the plants causing them to wilt or die.

Things You'll Need

  • Rake
  • Pruning shears
  • Shovel
  • Cloth coverings
  • Mulch
  • Burlap
  • Wooden stakes


  • University of Vermont Extension: Winterize Your Garden
  • North Carolina State University: Winterizing the Herb Garden
Keywords: winter plant protection, winterizing plants, evergreen care

About this Author

Since May 2009, Christina Delegans-Bunch has been pursuing her career as a professional writer. Her work has been published on eHow and GardenGuides. She holds a certification in floral designing and wedding consultation from Harcourt Extended Learning.