How to Care for Your Plants in Winter | Direct Energy Blog

How to Care for Your Plants in Winter

Gardening is a hobby that you can spend a lifetime learning about. Seasons change, seeds fail or thrive, and just when you think you know it all, you realize how much there still is to learn. Direct Energy’s Gardening Series is a follow-along guide to embrace the beauty and challenges involved in being a gardener. As a craft that requires patience, creativity, and endurance, gardening can be enjoyed by those of all ages, and is one of the most satisfying ways to spend an early morning or late afternoon. Follow along as we show you how to begin, which herbs grow the best, and other tips on how to plant a garden that will flourish under your care.

In many parts of the world, outdoor winter gardening is simply not an option.

The same is true for many northern parts of the United States. Winter and its snowy blanket arrives, and the ground freezes for months on end. Gardeners wait patiently in anticipation of the warm sun to reawaken the Earth below.

Southern states can typically expect to continue some light gardening during winter, although one hard freeze will wilt and burn an entire garden, particularly those gardens that include many tropical varieties.

However, don’t be discouraged by the weather outside. There are opportunities to plant color and maintain your garden knowing the burst of spring is around the corner.

Here are our tips on how to take special care of plants in the winter, both indoors and outdoors.

How to Care for Your Plants in Winter | Direct Energy Blog

How to Care For Plants in Winter

1. Keep Frost Cloth on Hand

Frost cloth is a special material made specifically for outdoor plants when snow, ice, or freezing temperatures are expected.

The material is light enough that it won’t squash plants or weigh them down and it allows enough sunlight in to penetrate the leaves of the plant. It also aids in warming up the ground. You can keep the frost cloth on for extended periods of time without risk of killing plants.

If you don’t own frost cloth, then using old bed sheets is a great alternative on a night during an unexpected freeze. You can also use a tarp or old shower curtain.

Be sure to weigh the cloth down with bricks or rocks so the wind doesn’t blow it off.

2. Remember to Water

There is a reaction to the cold within ourselves that if it’s cold outside, perhaps it means the ground is moist. Cold doesn’t always mean rain, and it’s very possible that over a stretch of time, the thermometer falls but no rain follows.

If the rain gauge isn’t showing much activity, be sure to put the hose or the sprinkler on in your garden. Winter is a time of dormancy, and plants such as bulbs, wildflowers and garlic are resting. Despite that, they still need water to sustain their growth.

If a freeze is expected, hold off on the watering until the sun is back out and shining or at least until temperatures are 40 degrees F or higher.

How to Care for Your Plants in Winter | Direct Energy Blog

3. Prune with Caution

A freeze will turn moisture-loving plants into dead brown mush. It’s a sad sight, and one I don’t wish to live with!

For plants you know are well established such as sword ferns, monkey grass, and natives, go ahead and prune them back if the frost has left their ends dead and crunchy. Come spring, they will emerge with vigor.

For citrus trees, other fruit trees, and ornamental trees, wait until springtime when you see their new shoots emerge. Then, you can prune around the tree as you see fit. It’s best to leave them alone until a new stage of growth.

4. Choose Hardy Plants

If having color in your life is a must, then consider planting some ornamental cabbages, miniature roses, snap dragons, English daisies, poppies, cyclamen, and pansies. Pansies are hardy, and will withstand a few days of ice while retaining their color and delicate blooms.

5. Use Portable Pots

Another option for those living in northern climates is to plant color in pots that can be moved in and out of shelter. For sunny days, leave the pots on the porch or back patio. When a freeze or snow is expected, then haul them into the garage for protection from the elements.

6. Use Your Window Sill

The sun changes position in the winter, and it can often mean our windowsills receive more sun and heat than usual.

It’s possible to keep potted succulents and African violets on the sills, along with begonias, cacti and possibly even a fern or two. Keep them watered, and in the direct light of the sun.

Read more home improvement tips at the Live Brighter Blog!


Born in Australia, Ebony has been in Texas long enough to consider herself a Texan-Aussie. Ebony has been writing for magazines, newspapers, and blogs, for more than 10 years. When she's not writing she's building quilts, growing her own food, or camping with her family somewhere far from the sounds of the city.

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