How to Protect Perennials for the Winter

Perennials last a long time and with a little bit of love and care they can grace your garden for a long time. The winters is a tough time for the perennials and it is important to prepare the plants for the winter.

Better Homes and Gardens has some great tips to properly put your perennials to bed and have them looking great in spring.

In gardening, winter is defined as the time of year when most perennials become dormant. Plant dormancy can be induced from the cold. Understanding the effects of cold on your garden are important in preparing for winter.

Snow forms an insulating blanket on the garden. Temperatures in the ground beneath the snow cover always hover around 32 degrees F, while they can plunge far below 0 degrees F immediately above the snow line. Perennials that are dormant at a constant temperature rarely have trouble surviving winter months. Use this guide to protect your precious perennials this winter!

Cut Back

Cut back dry stems of perennials to soil level after frost. This will make the garden look neater and remove pest eggs and disease spores. You can leave stems with attractive seed heads. Compost dead plant debris to create an organic soil conditioner. Hot, active piles kill weed seeds and disease pathogens; passive, inactive piles do not. Get rid of questionable plant material.

Mulch Beds

Mulch perennial and shrub beds with pine needles or chopped leaves. This protects both plant roots and the soil and moderates the effects of extreme temperature changes during winter freezes and thaws.

To prevent rodents from nesting in the soil, wait until the ground freezes before adding a 6-inch layer of organic material as winter mulch.

Preparing Warm-Climate Perennials

To prepare warm-climate perennials, divide spring- and summer-blooming plants. Check them for for pest infestations and disease outbreaks. Clean up perennial beds and borders. Cut down dead flower stems. Dig up and remove diseased plants. Weed areas that weren’t mulched.

Then divide overlarge clumps of spring- and summer-blooming plants to control their size and renew their blooming. Dig new beds and renovate existing ones. Plant new perennials and transplant others.

Preparing Cool-Climate Perennials

After the ground freezes, spread a winter mulch over any bare soil in the garden. Spread evergreen boughs over beds.

After frost, clean up perennial beds and borders. Cut down dead flower stems. Dig up and discard any weeds and diseased plants.

Pro Tip: Use Wd-40 Multi-Use Product to clean garden tools and extend their life.

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