How to Protect Outdoor Plants from Cold


Outdoor plants represent time, money and enormous effort. Preventing cold weather from damaging or even killing your plants is crucial in protecting your investment. Different plant varieties can withstand a varying degree of cold temperatures. Annual flowers are not usually cold resistant and need ample protection. Certain types of trees, on the other hand, can withstand temperatures well below freezing. Know the requirements of the species in your garden before preparing your garden beds for winter.

Step 1

Spread mulch around the base of your plants. Use bark, straw, leaves, sawdust and grass clippings to insulate the roots of your plants. Spread a layer up to 10 inches thick, depending on the size of your plants. Occasionally check the soil to make sure moisture is soaking through the mulch material.

Step 2

Cover plants with cloth. Wrap old blankets, sheets or burlap around three or four wooden stakes placed in the ground around your plants. Be sure the cloth stretches all the way to the ground and does not touch the leaves and freeze.

Step 3

Wrap plants in plastic. After insulating stems and branches with cloth, wrap the entire plant once more in a sheet of plastic. This will provide additional protection against cold temperatures, snow and wind.

Step 4

Relocate your plants to a warmer location. Potted plants can be moved to an enclosed porch or garage. If the plant is too large to move, gently lay it on the ground and cover with blankets. This will allow it needed proximity to ground heat.

Step 5

Utilize light snow cover. A 2- to 3-inch snow cover insulates the ground at the base of your plant. However, keep in mind that a heavy wet snow can be very damaging to plants and should be removed from beds if possible.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid bringing outdoor plants into a heated room. The rapid temperature change may shock the plant and cause damage.

Things You'll Need

  • Cloth
  • Plastic
  • Wooden stakes
  • Mulch


  • University of Floridia: Protect Plants from Cold
  • Protecting Your Plants During Cold Weather
Keywords: winterize, protect plants, cold protection

About this Author

Kelsey Erin Shipman has worked as a travel writer, poet, journalist and award-winning photographer since 2004. She is a featured poet on NYC public radio, is the winner of the San Jacinto & Alethean Literary Societies' Poetry Award, and has authored three collections of poetry including "cold days," "bastante" and "short poems." She earned a B.A. in philosophy from Southwestern University.