Cold Weather Help For Plants

Tucking mulch tightly around marginally cold hardy plants helps protect them from severe cold.

If the forecast is right, we will be very cold Sunday night. So there are a few things that might help our plants that are not exteremely cold hardy to survive. If you have plants in the ground, and you have not already mulched them, do so. I like pine straw, but other mulches are fine too. In extreme cold I also like to drop pine straw over the top of the plants until they warm up. Believe it or not, watering helps too. While we have had a lot of rain, make sure plants in protected places get well watered. For example, the plants under the eaves of my house will get watered well again before Sunday to help moderate the cold temperatures.
While you will see cloth and blankets wrapped around many plants, it can help some, but don’t expect miracles. Insulation wrapped around them would be much more beneficial. For containers that are big and cannot be moved indoors, I suggest another watering and mulching the pots heavily.
While we should expect cold damage on some plants, the good news is that we have been on the cold side for a while now. Temperatures that slowly move downward allow the plants to adjust easier than large fluctations in temperatures, like the flash snow a few weeks ago.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

5 thoughts on “Cold Weather Help For Plants

  1. When you say insulation , are you referring to pine straw and mulch? I have some but did
    not know it was that kind of protection . I thought it was decorative. I cannot tell you
    how I go around and put sheets and table cloths on my plants. I am talking about tablecloths
    that are irreplaceable.

  2. Good morning Dr. Floyd. As you well know most gardeners think of watering before a really hard freeze as the last action a reasonable person would undertake. Thanks again for pointing out a simple rule in the plant world…do what it takes to bolster the plants ability to survive. Desiccation from wind and lack of water kill more nursery stock than “over watering”.

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