Winterize Those Plants Now!

September 13, 2016

With temperatures turning chillier, it’s time to winterize! Your prized plants and garden stars can survive cold weather without you, but winterizing them will help increase the odds of robust growth come spring, especially if your landscaping is new.

Even though your plants, bushes and vegetable garden may look more and more lifeless, until the ground freezes there’s a lot going on below the surface. Hardy bulbs, divided perennials, or transplanted trees and shrubs are all drawing on the soil nutrients and moisture around them and developing roots.

Bedding them down for winter just takes a little bit of effort on your part.

Bunches of Mulch

You may have mulched in the spring, but that’s likely decomposed by now, so re-apply a thick winter layer around all of your plants. Mulch doesn’t keep things warm as much as it keeps ground temperatures even and wards off frost heave. That’s when soil repeatedly freezes and thaws and “heaves” plants up out of the soil, exposing crowns and roots to freezing air and drying winds.

A three-to-five inch layer of mulch using material like straw, chopped leaves or clean hay – something that won’t compact – will provide insulation.

Winterize plants

Aster flowers in the garden

As you add mulch, clear out blackened stems, cut any perennials and pull out annuals. This will help prevent disease and get rid of insect eggs that are trying to overwinter in the dead stuff! For a little color in winter, look at these suggestions from Better Homes and Gardens and HGTV to add some red and yellow hues that will pop against white snow.

Sleeping Beauties

When putting roses to bed for the winter, veteran gardeners recommend waiting for the ground to freeze before mulching. HGTV describes a few helpful options to ready your roses for cold weather.

Just about all of the pretty annuals you buy in the spring – like geraniums and fuchsias — are tropical plants. In warmer zones they can be perennials but in Colorado these plants usually die with the first frost. Here are 12 fragile annuals from that you might want to “winterize” indoors.

Evergreen (tree and shrub) roots freeze in soil and stop taking up water in winter. So to protect them from cold drying winds, it’s a good idea to winterize by wrapping them in burlap. Here’s a quick video tutorial that shows how to “bag” a tree for winter, which also prevents heavy snowfall from breaking off branches. You should also wrap young trees, especially the ones with thin bark, like fruit trees and soft maple, to prevent sunscald.

How to Winterize Veggies

Here’s a quick “to do list” to winterize your garden and prime it for a bountiful summer harvest next year!

  1. Leave carrots, garlic, horseradish, leeks, parsnips, radishes, and turnips in the garden for harvesting through early winter. Mark the rows so that you can find them in snow, and cover with a heavy layer of mulch to keep the ground temperatures even.
  2. Pull up tomato, squash, pea, and bean plants. If they’re disease-free, compost them. If any are diseased, either burn them or get rid of them.
  3. Remove all weeds and debris before the ground gets too hard.
  4. Gently till the soil to expose any insects that want stay the winter!
  5. Once most of the garden soil is exposed, add a layer of compost, leaves and manure (if you have it). Gently till.
  6. If some areas are just overgrown with weeds, cover them with black plastic and leave it until spring to kill sprouting seeds.

Fruitfully Yours

By the time the first fall frost arrives, strawberry plants have already set buds for next spring’s flowers. Temperatures below 15° F can damage those new buds and reduce your berry crop in 2017. HGTV has a simple how-to on winterizing strawberry plants to protect them from cold winter air, and has these tips about how to protect your raspberry plants.

If you want some plants that can pump out beautiful foliage and flowers year after year, Sunset has these suggestions about which ones to plant now to give them a healthy start in the spring.

Plant Yourself At Southshore

Whether you grow plants for curb appeal or for meal appeal, a new home at Southshore maybe just the just the place to create the garden of your dreams.  Visit the model homes of the new collections from Village Homes and check out the latest floor plans from Richmond American Homes, priced from the $400s to the $700s.