Updated: Nov 21
Preparing Plants for Winter – The Ultimate Guide
Here are tips to help you prepare your plants for winter. Learn how to trim your plants, remove diseased plants, & how to maintain optimal temperatures.
Winter is coming, the ground is getting colder, and you are probably wondering what to do with your plants. You don't want them to die, but you also don't have time to take care of them when it's freezing outside!
Fortunately, a few things can be done for your plants to survive and thrive during the cold months of winter. Some of these preparations are easy and can be done by anyone with a few basic tools. Other things require more preparation and knowledge about how best to care for your specific plant.
This article provides an overview of some steps you can take over the next few months to get your plants ready for winter!
Trim Your Plants
Trimming isn't just for shaping your plant and creating a nice aesthetic. It also promotes growth and helps put energy into the root system so the plant can store food for when it gets cold.
Benefits of pruning before winter include:
Promoting new growth
Removing dead or dying leaves and branches
It helps put energy into the root system for storage
Creates a more compact, healthier plant
By trimming your plants, you help distribute the plant's growth evenly. This ensures that they will continue to grow throughout the winter. By removing the lower branches, the plant can put more energy into new growth and root storage
Proper pruning will also remove diseased parts of your plant so that it can stay healthy during the winter months.
When Is the Best Time to Prune or Trim Plants?
Early fall is best for trimming most plants because, in most areas of the country, it will still be warm enough for the plant to continue growing and produce new foliage before winter hits. This helps ensure that the plant has plenty of growth and energy stored in its roots for when it gets cold outside.
However, some plants benefit from being trimmed after they've begun to lose their leaves, which is more common with tropical plants like hibiscus.
Springtime is the second-best time to trim, mainly because it's just after winter, so there's still plenty of growth on the plant. Also, if you're running into issues with pests during this time of year, then trimming your plants can help prevent them from getting any bigger and causing more damage. Plus, new foliage will grow in time for your plant to make it through summer without any problems.
Get Rid of Dead and Deceased Plants
Another way to prepare your plants for winter is to get rid of dead or diseased plants. You want to remove them as soon as possible, so they don't spread their disease to other plants on the same property, especially if you have a large piece of land.
Before removing any plant from your property, make sure that it is dead or diseased. Sometimes, an infested branch can appear dried up and unusable, but it could still have life in it.
When Is the Best Time to Remove Dead or Diseased Plants?
After pruning. This ensures that you can easily pull any new growth that may have been created by trimming your other plants. Then, if a disease was removed from your plant, you can make sure there's no disease left on the part of the plant that was removed.
Before pruning or winterizing. Even if it is diseased, removing a branch before winter will ensure that you won't leave an opening for insects to start making a home in another part of your house. Also, if you're pruning and find that a branch is too diseased to keep, then just cut the entire branch off at its base.
This way, you can pull it out of the ground, and your plant won't be left with any dead spots.
How to Remove Dead or Diseased Plants
Dig it right out
When removing a dead or diseased plant, start by using a trowel or shovel to dig down deep enough to loosen its roots from the soil. If the plant is diseased, you may even want to dig down past the root system.
Pull it out
Now that your plant's roots are loosened from the soil, simply pull it up and out of the ground. This will not only remove it from your property but also help expose any diseases or insects that have been hidden under the soil.
Remove its roots
When you pull up your plant, make sure that any of its roots are taken out with it. If you leave them behind, then disease or insects could still be hiding in them and will continue to infest your other plants if they're not located and destroyed as well.
Place a Heating Cushion around Your Root System
Another way you can help keep your plants healthy during the winter months is by putting a heating cushion around their root system. This will help protect them from any drastic changes in temperature that might cause the root system to freeze.
How to Put a Heating Cushion around Your Root System
Purchase Your Heating Cushion
You can find one at any home or garden supply store. They're also relatively easy to find online if you need something more convenient (like buying it as a gift).
Dig out the Root Area
Before you put the heating cushion around your plant's roots, you need to clear away some of them so that it fits snugly against the dirt. If there are too many roots in the way or if they're too tangled together, then carefully remove enough of them until you have a flat surface to apply your cushion to.
Put Your Heating Cushion Down
Spread the heating cushion out in a circle directly around your plant's root system, and then add dirt on top of it until it is secure enough not to move when you water or play with your plants. You can also staple or tape down any loose layers if necessary.
Plug It In
Make sure you have a few extra cords so that they can reach an outlet, and then plug your heating cushion in to start protecting your plant's root system from the cold weather! This is a great way to make sure your plants make it through winter alive – especially if you don't have a green thumb or live in an area where winter is harsh.
While heating cushions are available for purchase at most garden stores, you can also make your own. Here's how:
Cut off the top of a Styrofoam cooler. Start by cutting off the top of an empty Styrofoam cooler that has been emptied. Make sure that its opening is wide enough to allow your plant to fit through it. Keep the lid if you decide that you want to be able to cover your plant's root system again in the winter months.
Wrap some aluminum foil around the inside of it. This will act as your heating element and ensure no roots are exposed to direct heat or coldness (which may damage them).