This guide will answer your question of how to take care of plants in winter so read on…
Most of the outdoor plants enter a period of dormancy during the winter. Plants are highly inactive metabolically. They are doing their bare minimum. To stay alive, they use their stored food supplies. Stressful things like growing are least likely to be done by them. You can call winter a season of a long nap.
Plants face various chemical changes in winter, so you have to be extremely careful about them. As you cultivate your favorite outdoor plants this winter, keep a few things in your mind. Follow the guidelines stated, and your plants will successfully survive the rough season of winter.
How to take care of plants in winter
Know your plants
First of all, figure out which of your plants are annuals and which are perennial. Annual plants live for only one season, so they are not coming back after the winter. Some common annual flowers are geraniums, zinnias, marigolds, and sunflowers. You can pull any of these out and put them in the compost.
If you have any tropical or subtropical plants in the garden, bring them inside. Palms and ferns can stay lush green and healthy outside in the summer, but the freezing temperature and snow don’t let them survive in winter.
Before you bring them in, do a quick bug check. The rest of your plants can get bugs through them, so be careful.
The sun slips lower in the sky in winter. Near windows, the level of light drops up to 50%. Houseplants growing near a sunny eastern or northern window in summer will need southern or western exposure in winter. You must assist plants in coping with changing levels of light. If it’s possible, move the plants closer to the windows. Windows should be regularly cleaned so that maximum light can be transmitted.
In winter, make a shift of plants near bright windows. Plants should be dusted off so that leaves can make maximum use of available light. You can also add artificial light. Get fluorescent bulbs from the market. They provide adequate light. Another benefit is that they are usually cheaper than traditional grow lights, and the level of heat production by them is pretty low. If you want your results to be effective, position the bulbs 4-12 inches away from plants.
Trim your plants
The perennials will be left outside, so prune them before the winter. Once these plants are finished with blooming, you can cut them back. Summer flowering plants can also be pruned in the fall. Some late-flowering plants like coneflowers have seed pods that provide food to the birds when the ground is covered with snow. That is why you don’t have to cut them back. In addition to coneflowers, azaleas, forsythia and lilac form their spring buds in the fall, so you don’t have to prune them either.
Cover them up
In fall, a lot of old mulch is lying around the lawn. When you are cleaning up the lawn, get rid of that mulch. When the ground is frozen, you can put down a layer of mulch and chopped leaves to keep the roots insulated. That will provide them a buffer from snow.
Potted plants need special precautions
Potter plants can stay outdoor, but they are at greater risk of getting their roots frozen if they are young. Find some insulating material like a burlap, an old blanket, or bubble wrap and cover the pots with this material. Now place them close to the foundation of your house and arrange them close together. An added protection can be provided if you put a layer of mulch over them.
Extreme temperature fluctuations are not good for any of your houseplants as it is a known fact that most of the houseplants are tropicals, and the temperature range they prefer is 65-75°F during the day. This temperature is 10 degrees cooler at night. Some of the plants can face problems if the temperature is below 50°F. Make adjustments with your thermostat but remember that your plants need consideration.
Your plants should not be kept anywhere near cold drafts or heat sources. Keep a distance of several inches from your exterior windows.
In winter, the humidity range offered by homes could be 5-10%. The houseplants like it 40-50%. When plants are facing low humidity, you can see the signs. Pests like spider mites and brown leaf tips are the symptoms of low plant humidity. You can learn simple ways to improve humidity around plants.
Overwatering is the most common problem suffered by outdoor plants in winter. Almost 95% of houseplants need soil to dry out completely before watering. There are several gestures that plants give if they need water. When the root zone is dry, it means plants require water. You can test this by poking your finger up to two inches in the soil. If the soil is dry, start the watering.
Next, lift the pot. Soil is lighter when it is dry usually. It would be best if you learned how the soil feels by lifting pots right after the watering. Plants will not be needing water as often if you humidify winter rooms. Dry air means watering before watering the plants, research plant moisture needs. Ferns and potted citrus demand constant moist soil. Another important thing to remember is that when you water, don’t let the plants sit overnight in water collected in the drainage saucer.
If you are living in an area with a mind climate, fertilize plants through the winter. If the climate is cold and natural light is low, houseplants should not be fertilized in winter. When outdoor plants wake up in the spring, you can resume the fertilizing process. Fertilizer is not needed because the plants are not growing much in winter anyways.
Pruning the plants is very useful. It promotes branching and bushiness.
Spring and summer are the times when plants show the most growth. That is the right time for most houseplants to repot. Potted woody plants show an exception because they go completely dormant in winter. Before the bud break in spring, transplant them.
How cold is it too cold for outdoor plants?
When the temperature remains at 28°F for five hours, most of the plants start freezing. There are exceptions to this rule. When the temperature rises to 32-33°F, seedlings with their tender new leaves give up the ghost. Tropical plants follow different low-temperature thresholds.
Should outdoor plants be watered in winter?
Even if your plants are dormant and brown, they should still be watered periodically. Plants don’t survive until spring if they stay dehydrated in winter. That comes with dual problems. That creates extra landscaping costs in warmer months. It also damages your plumbing.
Can I bring my outdoor plants inside for the winter?
You can bring many of the ‘annual’ plants inside. Even tender plants that need a winter dormancy period can be brought inside. Before nighttime temperatures dip below 45°F (7°C), bring them indoors. Start bringing the plants inside for the winter as soon as fall approaches and the night’s temperature gets to 50°F (10°C).
Can plants recover from the cold shock?
Plants are pretty resilient, but plants receive permanent damage, and they die off. New leaves replace them. Full recovery can take several weeks or months, but most plants bounce right back if provided with warmth, water, and enough light.
Plants need extra care in winter. Keep them warm but not too warm. Some plants are highly sensitive to cold air. Minimize the frequency of watering. Most of the houseplants go dormant in winter. The humidity in your home should be increased. Give enough light to plants and keep them clean. Skip the fertilizer and protect them from temperature fluctuations.