Gardening in containers is tough, especially in winter. It is a challenge to guard against root damage. In containers, roots of the plants are exposed to ambient temperatures.
Mature roots have the ability to survive cold, but young roots don’t. Roots, be it young or old, are not as hardy as the plant’s top; and they need extra care in winters.
Here, we are providing some tips that will help you in protecting potted plants in winter:
When it comes to caring for your potted plants, think regionally. In mild winter regions (zone 8); container-grown plants require no extra care other than moving them to sheltered locations or covering them with frost blankets. In colder areas, where the winters are harsh, gardeners need to employ various techniques to protect the plants from cold as well as the wind.
Choose a Bigger Pot
Bigger pots allow more soil; more the soil, better the nourishment to the roots. It is better to choose a 15-gallon container rather than a one-gallon container to insulate the roots. Small containers freeze faster, and they dry out quickly. In winters, a big container with a thickness of a minimum one inch works the best.
When you are winterizing the container garden, the very first step is to clean and tuck away any empty pots. Terra-cotta and clay pots should be stored upside down in a dry place.
Terra-cotta pots are made up of porous clay, hence can’t be stored outside in freezing temperatures, they might crack. If you must leave planted terra-cotta outside, wrap the sides of the pot with a plastic wrap; it will prevent the pots from absorbing additional moisture.
Avoid the Freeze/Thaw Cycle
Don’t expose your plants to the freeze/thaw cycle as rapidly fluctuating temperatures cause injury to roots. You can avoid this by placing pots on soil rather than on pavement.
The containers on the pavement get exposed to the freeze/thaw cycle. The sun heats the pavement that elevates the temperature of the rootball, and at night the temperature drops considerably.
Plant the Potted Plants Early
Planting the containers early gives time to plants to harden off. Plants should have mature roots to go into winter as mature roots harden off and tolerate winter stress easily. Plants take a cue from the environment.
As the temperature starts to drop, temperate plants slow their growth. It is best to stop fertilizing your plants by midsummer; continue watering them through fall. On the other hand, evergreen plants should be watered well until the very first hard frost.
When it starts getting chilly, it is best to take cuttings of tender perennials, such as geraniums, impatiens, coleus, etc. to overwinter indoors. Move pots of tropical and perennials indoors into a bright window before the first frost.
Depending on your location, you need to provide some added protection to your potted plants. Below are the options for overwintering pots:
- Bury pots in the soil; the top of the container should be on the surface.
- Group pots together on soil; keep them close to a wall. It is best to place the cold-hardiest plants on the outside of the grouping and less hardy plants in the center. You can put straw bales on the periphery. Putting them together results in increasing the mass and volume of the insulation. It helps them protecting from harsh and cold winds.
- You can mulch pots with straw, shredded leaves for added insulation.
- The wall of the pot is the only insulation for roots. Before planting, insert at least one-inch thick foam around the walls of the pot.
- Since it’s the roots that need extra shielding, you can wrap pots in old blankets. The coverings trap the heat and help to keep the heat at the root zone.
- In extremely low-temperature areas, you can cover the plants at night with plastic, cloth, or burlap. Cover the plant in such a way that it doesn’t damage the top of the plant. Don’t forget to remove the covering during the day.
- You can insert the pot into a larger pot as it will give added protection during chilly winters.
How to Water During the winter?
You need to water your pots adequately as there is less rainfall during winter. It is best to water during the day when the temperature has warmed up above freezing. If there is a forecast of freezing conditions, water your potted plants before these conditions.
These hacks are going to help you to protect your potted plants during winter. These tips also help in saving exotic plants from tropical climates as they are the ones that need extra care to survive in winters.
The above tips for Landscape Design Calgary are simple to follow and prove beneficial in protecting plants from chilly and freezing winters.