3 Tips to Please Your Plants in this Cold Snap


Submitted 2 years ago
Created by
Henry Homeyer

Help Those Shivering Shrubs

You can help any trees and shrubs you planted this summer to survive in this cold weather. They may be shuddering as much as we are because many, especially if bought at one of the Big Box stores, were born and raised in the south – so this is their first encounter with cold.

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The cold now is actually not bad, in general. But if the ground freezes and thaws repeatedly, root balls of new plants – both perennials and shrubs - can be lifted up a little, allowing air to reach roots, killing them. Older plants are not nearly as susceptible to being lifted by frost as their roots should have grown far and wide, holding plants in place despite efforts by frost to heave them up.

So what can we do to help our plants now?

1.     Put down a layer of mulch around them. This will help to keep the soil frozen. Bark mulch is fine, but you can also just break open a bale of hay or straw and put a foot of fluff around the plants. Your garden center will have mulch, if even if your supply is frozen into a big ice cube.

Hay protecting a small shrub planted in August

2.     You can wrap shrubs or newly planted small trees with burlap or synthetic woven material designed for such. This will protect buds from the cold winds that may destroy them. Again, I tend to do this for first year plants that are not used to our climate – but in the future they have to survive on their own. 

This kousa dogwood is a Zone 5 plant - so survival in my Zone 4 garden is "iffy". I have given it fabric to protect the spring flower buds, and hay to keep the roots a little warmer.

3.     Use branches you cut off a “too-tall” Christmas tree to protect new shrubs. Or you can cut pine or hemlock boughs if you have trees in your woods that can spare. Just cut a few and pack them over the soil and around the shrub.

Boughs of evergreens are good mulch, too

There is nothing you can really do that will protect a Zone 6 plant in a Zone 4 garden, but borderline plants can survive if they were well planted in soil that suits them. A little protection from the cold will help, especially the first year. Read about other things you can do by clicking here

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Henry is the author of 4 gardening books. My personal  website has been down for a couple of weeks, but is now up and running! Visit my website by clicking here.  

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