Winter is a harsh season. For many of us, depending on where we live, winter means spending time indoors, cuddled up next to a roaring fire until the ice and snow melts, and we can get outside without our eyelashes freezing again. Plants aren’t always that lucky. You may have an annual routine that involves throwing away your dead, frozen plants after the first spring thaw, but there are some things you can do to break that tradition and actually get another season out of your potted plants. Here are some tips for keeping your plants alive in the winter.
Potted plants have a hard time living through winter for many reasons. First off, their roots aren’t built to take the cold. Most of the plant that is above ground could probably make it through, but the roots are actually two temperate zones weaker than the rest of the plant. They survive in the ground because the surrounding soil insulates the roots. Pots simply don’t have enough soil to provide adequate insulation. Secondly, as temperatures fluctuated, the snow and ice that accumulate on top of the pot will freeze, thaw and refreeze. This introduces a tremendous amount of moisture to the soil and can cause the plants to rot.
Here are some things you can do to give your potted plants a fighting chance.
Bringing your potted plants inside is the best way to help them survive the winter, but it’s not as simple as sticking them in the living room in front of the bay window. Your perennials will likely need a dormant period, so a warm window sill isn’t the best place. Instead, opt for a garage, shed or cool basement and water the plants throughout the winter only when the soil gets completely dry.
If you don’t have a garage, shed or basement you can put them in a shaded spot in your yard and cover them up with mulch. If for some reason you have to leave your potted plants in place, you can wrap them up in burlap, cloth or bubble wrap to insulate them.
The last option is probably the best, but it also requires the most amount of work. You can bury your potted plants completely, including the pots! Simply dig a hole or trench and lay your pots down inside (not upright). Lightly cover the pots with mulch or soil and come spring they should sprout fresh shoots.