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What Tips Do You Have for Providing Winter Plant Protection?

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Question: What Tips Do You Have for Providing Winter Plant Protection?
The answer here depends, to a large degree, on the type of plant in question....
Answer:

Protecting Tropical Plants in Winter

Is the plant in question a tropical plant? Do you live in a climate where winters get cold? Then you may very well have to bring your specimen indoors -- one way or another -- in order to provide winter plant protection for it.

In some cases, this will mean bringing the entire plant indoors and using it in your interiorscaping during the winter. For example, if you're growing a palm tree in a pot and have kept it outdoors all summer, you will have to move it indoors at some point in the fall (unless it's hardy in your region).

In other cases, it's the tubers of a tropical plant that you will be bringing indoors, rather than the whole plant. Typically, such tubers are stored during the winter in a place that is neither too cold nor too hot. In the following articles, I offer tutorials on storing the tubers of some of the most popular tropicals used in landscaping:

Protecting Perennials in Winter

How do you provide winter plant protection for perennials? If the perennial in question is borderline-hardy in your region, creating a microclimate for it may be enormously helpful. But more generally speaking, your greatest ally will be mulch -- if used correctly.

I offer two articles intended to inform you about mulch. The first will help those at an intermediate level (on the horticultural spectrum) to choose between the different types of mulch, while the second is an FAQ and geared more to beginners:

It is important to remember to remove mulch in spring at the proper time.

Protecting Ornamental Grasses in Winter

If the particular ornamental grass that you are growing is cold-hardy in your area, you should not have to go to any great lengths to give it winter plant protection. I recommend simply that you wait until spring to trim it. Here's why:

  1. By leaving the foliage in place, the grass' own above-ground growth furnishes a certain amount of insulation for the below-ground component (i.e., the root system).
  2. This foliage is attractive and can supply considerable winter interest. Indeed, its winter-interest value may well be one of your chief motivations in deciding to grow an ornamental grass.

Protecting Shrubs in Winter

When it comes to affording winter plant protection, evergreen shrubs are often treated differently than are deciduous shrubs. For the latter, giving winter protection with a shrub shelter usually makes good sense. I discuss the issue of whether or not to afford similar shelter to evergreens at some length in the following FAQ:

Winter Protection for Evergreen Shrubs

Protecting Trees in Winter

Obviously, mature trees will generally be too tall to wrap in burlap or enclose within a protective shelter. The best way to furnish winter plant protection for them is through proper irrigation prior to the cold-weather months, as detailed in the following resource:

Watering Trees in Fall

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