How to Protect Your Plants from the Cold

This winter continues to bring rough weather and frigid cold temps. While you hopefully stay snug and warm indoors, your plants can quickly experience the negative effects of a deep freeze. 

Follow these steps to make sure your plants are properly protected from the winter chill. 

1. Apply a layer of mulch


Apply a thick layer (2-to-4 inches) of mulch around the base of your plants, including trees, shrubs, and perennial beds. 

This helps to insulate the soil and roots, keeping them warmer than the surrounding air temperature. Use organic mulch, such as shredded leaves, wood chips, and straw. 

2. Cover your plants

Cover plants

Use frost cloths, burlap, or even old blankets to cover more sensitive plants. This traps heat from the soil and protects the foliage from frost damage. 

Make sure to secure the coverings so they don't blow away. Remove the coverings during the day to allow for light and air circulation.

Another tip? Set up windbreaks to protect plants from harsh winds, which can exacerbate the cold's effects. For individual small plants, you can use cloches or even inverted plastic jugs to create a mini greenhouse effect.

Read more: How and when to cover plants during cold weather

3. Water your plants 

Water wisely

Keep your plants well-watered before a freeze. Moist soil holds heat better than dry soil, providing extra warmth around the roots. However, avoid overwatering, which can lead to ice formation around the roots.

Another good rule of thumb? Water when the temperature is not below 40 degrees F and the soil is dry to the touch. 

4. Check plants regularly 

Check plants

After the storm passes, check your plants for damage. 

For example, examine shrubs for visible signs of damage, such as broken branches or wilted leaves. Carefully scratch the bark on the shrubs with your fingernail or a pocket knife to see if it’s green underneath. 

However, avoid pruning out any damaged plant branches right after a hard freeze. It can take days or weeks to see the true damage. Watch for mushy and soft top plant growth. If this happens, remove to avoid fungal growth. 

Read more: After the Deep Freeze: How to See if Your Shrubs Will Make It

5. Keep monitoring the weather

Monitor the weather

If you live in the metro Atlanta area, visit First Alert Weather from AtlantaNewsFirst. Consider downloading the app. You can also tune into WSB-TV for the weather report. 

Protect your plants

As a final tip, if possible, move potted plants indoors or into a garage to protect them from the cold.

Remember, each plant has its own level of hardiness, so consider the specific needs of your plants when preparing for winter weather. Stay warm and safe, and let's hope your garden weathers the storm beautifully! Plant Joy!