As winter takes hold, gloves, scarves, and pets in sweaters seem to multiply exponentially. Humans and animals are not alone in their need for winter protection—plants are also put at risk by extreme cold. Generally speaking, plants can’t move, and yet trees, shrubs, and plants of all kinds routinely survive winters outside. Given that, you’d be correct in assuming that plants have built-in defenses against frigid temperatures. Even so, your outdoor plants can still succumb to winter’s icy grasp. Keep your home from resembling a barren tundra with these five plant protection tips.

  1. Plant ahead. Dogs are all kinds of wonderful, but a solid case could be made for prevention and preparation being our real best friends. If you live in a freeze-prone area, replace your outdoor plants with perennials and hardy, winter-resistant plants. These plants will be tough enough to ride out the winter with minimal effort on your part. If you’re planning a winter garden, go for crops that are well suited for colder temperatures. Obviously, this strategy requires some forethought, so keep it in mind for winters to come.

  2. Bring smaller plants indoors. The next best thing, when practical, is to move plants inside for the winter months, but bringing your plants inside doesn’t mean that your work is done. Due to the change in environment, you should monitor your plants to make sure that they are staying healthy. Changes in humidity can negatively impact plants, so be sure to keep them away from windows and air vents. Keeping plants elevated can be beneficial, since the coldest air in any room will generally be near the floor. An added bonus to bringing plants inside is that you’ll be able to enjoy cleaner and fresher air throughout the winter.

  3. woman wearing gloves watering three potted plants

    Adjust your plants’ drinking habits. In winter, both indoor and outdoor plants tend to go dormant or significantly reduce their activity. Inactivity means very little growth—if any—which means a reduced need for resources. Adjust your watering schedule to make sure that you aren’t overwatering and opening your plants up to mold or root rot.

  4. Insulate your outdoor plants. It might be a little uncomfortable to talk about, but plants are basically naked, 24/7. Modesty aside, covering up your plants’ roots will help them weather the extreme cold. Insulating plants offers frost protection and traps warmer air around the plants. Mulch, pine straw, and even snow can be used to insulate the crowns and roots of your plants.

  5. white and brown rabbit sitting in snow

    Shield plants from snow and winter pests. Tying down branches and using mesh covers or wire fencing can help keep trees safe from winter pests like rabbits and deer. Call a tree service professional to prune vulnerable limbs and branches ahead of ice and snowstorms. Putting burlap over branches can help prevent limb breakage by evenly distributing weight of snow and will make it easier to shake off accumulating snow.

Despite living outside, the brutal cold, biting wind, and frozen precipitation of a harsh winter can overcome the defenses of even the hardiest plants. Give yourself a leg up on spring by giving your indoor and outdoor winter plants a little extra protection.

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