How to Protect Potted Plants in Winter

October 27, 2017

It is tough to protect potted plants during winter. You have to guard them from harsh sunlight and wind or else they will dry out. Rapidly erratic temperatures will result in root damage.

When planted in a container in the winter even plants that are hardy to your zone can be hit hard. Preventing root damage is the biggest challenge.

How to protect potted plants in winter

The roots are exposed to ambient temperatures in any type of container. It is difficult for young, immature roots to get used to the cold. However, mature roots will gradually get used to the cold. Young roots in containers grow on the outer part of the rootball. Young roots when exposed to the cold are unable to acclimate and die back.

Consider these tips to protect delicate root systems.

Keep plants away from swiftly fluctuating temperatures

Fluctuating temperatures can lead to significant root damage. Instead of pavement, place pots on soil to avoid this. The main source of heat for roots for plants in the ground is the heat of the earth. The sun can warm the pavement considerably for containers on pavement, elevating the temperature of the rootball. At night there will be drop in temperatures. These fluctuations can damage the plants.

Choose bigger pots

Bigger is better when choosing a pot during winter. The soil in a large container will insulate the roots better. The smaller container will freeze faster. So choose a large pot which is at least one inch thick. Plants in smaller pots dry out quickly.

Plant early

In order to allow plants to harden off plant the container as early as possible. Plants have a much better chance to harden off if they are healthy and go into winter with mature roots. Plants with mature roots will survive the winter.  

Choosing the Right Pot

Choose pots according to the weather. Ceramic and terra cotta which are untreated and porous tend to break with freezing and thawing.

Wood containers are the best. Metal, concrete and plastic containers are also good as they are non-porous and can withstand the elements. However, it is not easy to move concrete and metal containers as they are quite heavy. The disadvantage of plastic containers is that they will crack after a period of time. Fibre reinforced plastic containers are good as they are quite study and are lightweight as well.   

Find the Right Place

For potted plants to thrive a pot’s location is also important. Place pots where there is shade. You can place containers on the east or north sides of the house. The greatest temperature swing happens in the south side.

For winter gardens evergreens, hardy dwarf conifers, shrubs or trees in different colours or ornamental grasses are great. You can place these plants near the front door or windows where they can be easily seen.

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