How to Keep Flowers Alive in Winter

 

purple potted pansiesSome people think that it is difficult to grow flowers in winter.  Flowers can tolerate low temperatures, frosts, and freezes; if they are properly cared for.  Check out this article titled, “Which Flowers Bloom in Winter,” for some wonderful winter flowers.  

A frost warning is not as concerning as a freeze when it comes to plants.  Most plants can survive a frost.  Although sometimes, a frost can catch you off-guard and turn into a freeze.  

A frost advisory is when temperatures will be between 36 degrees Fahrenheit and 32 degrees Fahrenheit.  

A freeze warning is when it is expected that temperatures will drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lastly, a hard freeze is when temperatures are predicted to drop below 28 degrees Fahrenheit.  

When plants are damaged from a freeze, the damage is on the inside of a plant.  The water inside the plants freezes and when temperatures warm up, the ice melts, cutting into the cell walls.  The plant will begin to turn shades of black and brown.  

Frost damage happens to the surface of the plant.  The outside parts of the plant will look icy or frozen.  

Every winter the frosts and the freezes will continue to occur, but that doesn’t mean our flowers have to suffer.  Keep reading to learn some techniques that will help you prepare and protect your plants from winter weather.  

Watering

In winter, flowering plants require less water compared to the beginning of spring and summer. Most flowers are in a “sleepy” or dormant state, thus requiring less water.

That being said, you do want to continue watering your plants well before the ground is frozen.  Even if plants are dormant, their roots are alive and still need water. 

 Moist ground retains more heat than frozen ground.  The heat in moist soil will release slowly over time.  

Sprinkling plants with water before a frost will create a layer of insulation.  As the water turns from liquid to solid, heat is actually released.  This does not work for a hard freeze.  

Proper irrigation maintenance is a sure-fire way to keep your landscape looking lush and colorful.

Move Plants

Cold temperatures are hard on plants, but so are cold winds. Container plants are more at risk than in-ground plants because their roots have less insulation.  

Move any potted plants into your garage or outdoor shed.  When you move plants, group them close together.  This will help them all stay warmer.  

If a garage or shed is not an option, move flowers under a patio or underneath the overhang of a house.  This will still protect them from harsh winds.  

Another idea is to put plants close together around the base of a tree.  The principle is the same; the tree will take most of the heavy winds, and the plants will get hit with less wind.  

Cover Plantscovered plants

Covering plants is the most sensible way to protect them from winter weather.  Cover plants all the way to the ground and hold them down with rocks or bricks.  This will trap heat in with the plants.  

Another way to trap in more heat is to cover plants before dusk.  During the day, plants are absorbing heat from the sun.  You want to cover plants when that heat is still trapped inside them.  

Here is a list of acceptable things to cover plants with:

  • Blankets
  • Sheets
  • Boxes
  • Newspaper
  • Frost cloths

Once you cover your flowers with one of these items, you may then add another layer of protection and cover the cover with a layer of plastic.  Plastic covers are great for reducing wind damage.

Do not place the plastic directly over your plants though.  Plant tissue can burn when it comes in contact with plastic.

Add Heat

For really cold temperatures, add a heat source along with a cover.  Adding a string of warming Christmas lights will make a huge difference.  

The heat source needs to be underneath the cover.  You will need to be careful and not let the lights touch the flowers because the lights can burn the plant tissue.

Filling up jugs with water and placing those underneath the cover will also provide heat.  The heat from the water will release slowly throughout the night.    

Add Mulch

Adding 3-6 inches of mulch is a practical way to protect your flowers from freezing temperatures.  The mulch will keep the soil warm and moist.  

The mulch should be added once your perennial flowers have gone dormant.  When you mulch too early, the soil stays warm and the plants keep growing.  

Remove the mulch in spring so that the soil can warm up and your flowers can start blooming.  It’s a good idea to keep spring and fall clean-ups in mind if you want your garden to look great all year long.  

Conclusion

In Texas, our plants and flowers are more sensitive to cold weather because they’re not used to frequent freezing temperatures.  Even cold-hardy plants appreciate a little extra love when winter weather arrives.  

Taking the extra time to “winterize” your plants and flowers will yield bountiful and vibrant blooms for you come spring.  When you provide your garden with adequate water, covers, heat, and mulch, you are giving your flowers their winter coats, mittens, and gloves.  

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

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