How to Care for Plants During Winter


Caring for plants during the winter is less work-intensive than during the growing season. There are certain things that must be done to help the plants survive the winter. These things depend on the climate you are located in. There is more work in colder climates than in milder climates. There is also an extra procedure for milder climates that tend to suffer from frost. Even with precautions, some plants may not survive an especially cold winter.

Step 1

Cease fertilizing six weeks prior to the first frost. Determining when the first frost is can be done by experience (living in the area for years), or you can purchase a Farmer's Almanac to try to guess when the first frost will be. If you live in a mild climate and have plants that thrive during the cooler months, continue fertilizing as directed for each plant.

Step 2

Mulch shrubs and trees with at least 3 inches of pulverized bark or compost. If you have roses or another type of plant with a graft union, mulch to at least 3 inches past the graft union. For roses, cut the canes to 4-foot length, then tie them together to minimize damage from freezing (plants become brittle and break if frozen). Tying the canes together keeps them from breaking in the wind once they are frozen.

Step 3

Reduce watering from mid-November through early spring. Most plants are dormant throughout the winter and do not require as much water. If you live in a warmer climate and have plants that are not dormant during the winter, continue the normal watering schedule throughout the winter.

Step 4

Cover plants with a sheet or burlap in milder climates if there is a frost warning. In milder climates, there are many evergreen plants that are not frost hardy. Covering the plants with a sheet, plastic or burlap helps to protect them from frostbite.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost or pulverized bark
  • Sheet, burlap or plastic
  • Ties
Keywords: winter plants, mulching for winter, caring for plants during winter

About this Author

Cayden Conor is a family law paralegal who writes on various subjects including dogs, cockatoos and cooking. She has over 15 years of experience as a paralegal, and has been writing professionally for three years. Conor has a paralegal degree and majored in criminology, computer science (programming emphasis) and education.