How to Care for Flowers in Winter

Flowering perennial garden image by S.F. Heron - All images


Winter brings an end to the riotous blooms in your garden in summer. However, gardeners need to prepare plants to tolerate the colder months of the year. This careful attention can help your plants go dormant properly and burst forth the following spring with new growth and increased blooms. This guide offers gardeners a general outline on how to care for flowering in winter. Each plant variety differs, so consult the plant label or your local nursery for information on overwintering flowering plants by type.

Perennial Flower Care

Step 1

Cut back the blooms on your perennial plants as they die during the blooming season. Topping the plant encourages the plant to generate energy for stem growth instead of flowers and seeds. This maintenance effort will keep the plant healthy throughout the remainder of the growing season.

Step 2

Don't cut back perennials to the ground before the first frost. It's best to allow perennials' stems and leaves to die on their own. It makes for a messy winter garden but allowing the plants to die also adds organic matter to the soil. This natural fertilizer helps the plants rejuvenate in the spring.

Step 3

Apply a 6 to 10 inch layer of mulch or straw above and around the perennial plant after the ground freezes. Don't pack this layer of protection tightly. Leave the mulch loose to encourage air circulation. The mulch will insulate the ground somewhat to protect the plant from freezing.

Annual Flower Care

Step 1

Bring all of your annual pots and hanging baskets inside the garage or lighted shed before the first frost. Annuals cannot tolerate any frost at all. Frost damage ruins flowers and browns leaves. The location should have indirect light and cool temperatures above freezing. Remove any annuals you'd like to salvage from your garden beds, and place them in plant pots.

Step 2

Rinse as much garden soil from the roots of the annuals as possible. This discourages pests and disease during the dormant stage of the plant. Repot the plant in new potting soil for indoor storage.

Step 3

Clip back any overgrown, leggy extended branches. Pruning encourages plant growth from the center of the plant as well as the root.

Step 4

Water the plants thoroughly. In the winter, water and fertilize at least once a month to keep the plants dormant but healthy. Never allow the soil to become completely dry.

Things You'll Need

  • Straw
  • Mulch or straw
  • Pruning clippers
  • Potting soil
  • Portable pots
  • Watering can
  • All-purpose fertilizer


  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Service
  • University of Nebraska Platte

Who Can Help

  • General Overwintering Instructions for Perennials
  • Guide for Overwintering Flowering Bulbs
Keywords: caring for flowers, overwintering flowers, winter flower care

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with over three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various websites and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.

Photo by: S.F. Heron - All images