Although the heat seemed never ending at one point, temperatures have dropped significantly in the past few days, and autumn has truly arrived. While your plants will now no longer fall victim to drought, the imminent cold is the next risk factor to look out for.
Whether you have a garden, a small balcony, or only a couple of flowers on your windowsill, here’s how your plants will make it through the cold season.
DO use covers. If frost is forecast, you should cover exposed plants that you cannot move or take inside. To cover plants, you can use horticultural fleece or newspapers; depending on the temperature, you might need several layers. To ensure the best protection, you should cover your plants before the first frost, so keep an eye on the forecast! Here you can find more information on how to wrap specific plants.
DON’T dismiss watering. While rain was scarce over the summer, leaving plants at risk of dehydration, the colder months can cause the opposite problem. Heavy rain and snow can cause roots to rot, and strong winds can damage plants. To avoid water damage, ensure you have enough drainage holes in pots and, if possible, raise your plants above the ground. To protect them from the wind, you can add a stake to give your plant more stability.
DO add more mulch. Mulch will protect the roots from frost and make it more likely that your plants will survive the winter. The mulch will also keep nurturing the soil and helps to retain humidity, keeping the plants healthy for spring.
DON’T forget about your houseplants. While plants in your garden are more directly exposed to the elements, your houseplants can also suffer from changing temperatures. Move the plants closer to windows so they can still get as much light as possible during the colder days. At the same time, don’t putting them right next to radiators to avoid dehydration. As long as you keep your plants away from direct heat, they will generally need less water than in summer. Therefore, adjust your watering habits to avoid causing root rot through overwatering.
DO take your plants inside. If the plants are in a pot that is easy to move, the easiest solution is to take your plant indoors. This way, you won’t have to worry about the elements at all and don’t have to spend time in the cold yourself when covering and caring for them over the winter. If one is available, you can also move plants that survive colder temperatures to a greenhouse that protects them from wind and precipitation. You can still protect plants that can’t be moved to either of these places; simply find a more sheltered spot in the garden, for instance, close to a wall, fence, or even other plants.
DON’T repot your plants. If possible, it is best to leave repotting until spring. Repotting puts additional strain on the plant when they already have to deal with the colder weather, making them more susceptible to disease. Thus, before you bring your plants inside, make sure everything is in order and give them a trim if necessary.
DO your research. Every plant has its own specific needs, so while the above is generally true, you might want to look into what kind of care (if any at all) your plants need. This website offers a lot of advice on all things gardening and is a great place to get your research started.
DON’T throw plants out when they seem dead on the surface. Some plants will discard their leaves, and you won’t see any new shoots until spring, but this does not mean that they have died; they are merely dormant. Unless we experience severe frost, the roots of these plants will survive the winter, and they will start growing again in spring.