Guide to Winterizing Perennials
Closer to the end of autumn it is time to think about preparing perennial plants for winter in order to help them survive the potentially challenging weather conditions of winter months.
Keep reading to find out the ways to prepare your perennials for winter and to have them revived and healthy ready for new growth in the spring.
First of all, it is essential to decrease watering - cut down on the water levels slowly, every time reducing the amount of water you give to the plants. A lower level of moisture in the soil will help your perennials to harden so they will be ready for the changes in weather conditions as winter approaches. It will increase their endurance and cold resistance.
The bulbs of some perennials will not be able to survive hard frosts and snow of winter if you leave them in the ground. You should therefore wait until the first frost and dig up the bulbs of Gladiolus, Dahlias and other delicate plants. Store them until spring in a place where they will not be affected by moisture and heat.
If you’re perennial plants have finished flowering, cut their stems leaving only around seven inches from the base. Do not worry; they will grow back when the time is right. The trimmed stems can be dug in the soil to enrich it with organic matter, but make sure they are not affected by any disease.
Any diseased perennials should be removed from your garden completely: dig them out and throw out. It is important to remember to avoid putting compost around any plants affected by diseases; otherwise the compost can spread the infection to other plants around the garden.
To enrich the soil along with feeding your plants for the long period of cold: put a layer of compost around every plant. The layer should be around 5 inches thick.
Remember that mulching is an essential part of winterizing perennials. It is necessary to mulch regardless your decision to keep the dead foliage in your garden or to remove it. In order to insulate your flower beds, remove the old mulch and put some fresh hay or straw around your plants. It will help them to survive no matter how much snow falls during the winter season.
After you have trimmed the plants, stop watering them.
Following the first frost you should stop watering all the perennials in your garden.
Avoid fertilizing your plants in the second part of summer and all through autumn: it will slow down the growth and help them adjust to severer conditions.
Sometimes newly planted trees and shrubs need some extra protection for a couple of winter seasons until they establish properly.
Any plant that seems to be too susceptible to snow and cold of winter should be hidden under a seasonal shelter. Anything will do: plastic pots, thick paper bags, straw and shredded leaves. Of course, if you care for the aesthetic look of your garden in winter too, it would be better to make some shelters with a more appealing look. But if you are in a hurry to save your plants, you can use anything that might be suitable for this purpose as long as it provides some protection for the plants.
Follow the basic rules of winterizing perennials, treat your plants with affection and patience, take care of them, and enjoy their bloom as they thrive again in spring.