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Guide To Preparing Plants For Winter | EverGreen Landscapes

Updated: Jan 26, 2022

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?

  1. Fall

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.

  1. Spring

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?

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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

  1. 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).

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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).

  3. Put it in the ground, plug it in, and enjoy your plants. Now all you have to do is follow step 1-d above!

Pare Your Perennials

When preparing perennials for winter, another good idea is to cut down on their size or pare them for a healthier winter landscape.

How to Pare Your Perennials

  1. Cut Them Back

Using a saw or other cutting tool (not scissors), cut your perennials down to between four and ten inches in height. Depending on the perennial, you might want to remove its bottom leaves as well.

  1. Put Gravel around Their Roots

After you've removed some, if not all, of the leaves from your perennials' root area, you should then put some gravel on top of it. This will help protect them against any drastic temperature changes that might occur during the winter months.

  1. Continue to Water Them

Finally, continue to water your perennials as usual – don't give them too much, or else their roots might become waterlogged.

  1. Enjoy!

Once you're done, all you have to do is enjoy your newly-pared perennials throughout the winter months. They will look just as good in springtime when it's time to plant them again!

Remove Slimy Leaves

Leaf slime, which is caused by slimy black, white, or grey mold growth on plant leaves, can sometimes appear during winter. This is especially true for people who live in moist climates that experience mild to heavy periods of rain. To get rid of it:

  1. Get rid of the affected leaves. Carefully remove any leaves that are affected by the slime mold.

  2. Wash off the plant. Using a hose or other moistening agent, wash your plants until all of the slimes have been removed from them.

  3. Get rid of any brown leaves. Brown leaves should also be thrown away to preserve your garden's appearance. If you can't remove them yourself, then you might want to consider talking with your city or town's compost facility about throwing them away for you.

  4. Make sure to water your plants. Although this doesn't prevent the slime mold from returning, it ensures that your plants will look their best throughout winter and into springtime.

Plant Cover Crops

As the winter months approach, you might also want to consider planting cover crops. These plants can be grown quickly during the warmest months of the year and then harvested before your first frost. They will help protect your garden from erosion throughout winter.

Some examples of cover crops include ryegrass, clover, fescue, alfalfa, and buckwheat – just to name a few.

However, if you need help figuring out which cover crops would best protect your garden from erosion and extreme weather conditions, then speak with a professional about it.

Cover with Compost

Another great way to protect your plants during winter is by covering them with compost. Although compost doesn't protect your plants from the extreme cold, it does help insulate their roots and minimize any temperature fluctuations that may occur.

This is because soil covered with compost is less likely to freeze or get too dry during winter. If they do, then remove the layer of compost to water them again.

Review the Plants in Your Garden

As the winter months approach, you might want to take some time out of your day to review all of the plants in your garden. This is especially true if they haven't been reviewed since last winter. It's essential that you know which ones are alive or dead, what condition they're in, and how much work you need to do to restore them to their normal states.

Once you know how much work needs to be done, you can choose whether or not it's worth doing during the winter months. If so, then follow the steps mentioned above for getting your plants through winter with minimal damage!

How to Prepare Potted Plants for Winter (5 Tips)

If you have plants in containers, now is the time to prepare them for winter. Here are a few tips:

  1. Give your garden a good clean-out, and then lean all remaining pots against each other on their sides or upside down next to a wall if you prefer. This will help prevent them from tipping over in the wind.

  2. Drill a few drainage holes in the bottom of each post to help ensure that your plant will not suffer from overwatering once it is back outside.

  3. Cover the pot with either old newspaper, cardboard, or any other insulating material you have on hand. This will prevent the soil from drying out and protect your plant against the cold and any salt and chemicals that might get tracked onto it during winter.

  4. If you intend to store your potted plants in a garage, basement, or another dark/cold area, make sure to take them outside over the next few days so they can slowly adjust to these new surroundings before bringing them indoors.

  5. To help ensure that your container plants are protected from any possible pests, consider covering them with a natural pesticide or pouring boiling water over the soil in each pot. This will kill any bugs that have managed to start living in this area in preparation for winter.

What Not to Do While Preparing Your Plants for Winter

  1. Fertilizing Too Much

Fertilizing your plants before winter could cause new growth, which can lead to pest infestations by increasing the amount of food within the plant itself. Also, overfeeding plants with nutrients can cause the accumulation of chemicals in the soil during this season, which would cause damages to the plant and kill it.

  1. Over Pruning

Pruning your plants too much before winter could impact their ability to remain warm and healthy during the rest of the season due to reduced insulation. It could also prevent them from flowering enough in time for springtime!

2. Skipping Irrigation

Do not skip watering or drop your irrigation system's frequency below 40%. This could cause irreversible damage to your plants' roots which would be challenging to fix when warmer weather comes around again.

3. Over reliance on Mulch

Do not rely on mulch alone to insulate your plants against winter's cold temperatures. Instead, combine it with an insulation strategy that prevents damage to the roots of your plants for this planning tip to work correctly.


Prepping your plants for winter might seem like a daunting task, but it's pretty easy if you follow our advice above. As long as you have the right tools and materials on hand, then you should have no trouble getting your garden ready for its coldest season of the year!

For professional help, feel free to contact our team at EverGreen Landscapes anytime. We offer a wide range of landscaping services, including winterization, which means that we would be happy to help you get the job done!

What steps did you take to prepare your garden for winter? Please share your tips and tricks with us in the comments below!

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