Overwintering Hardy + Tender Plants

Many plants face hardship each winter when battling with cool temperatures and frost. To give your annuals the best chance at survival (and protect your investment), become familiar with how resilient your plants are, and which temperatures they can survive by pinpointing their hardiness.

Hardy plants can withstand most winter conditions. This includes pansies, peonies, foxgloves, chrysanthemums, and calendulas. These flowers cope well with a bit of frost down to 23 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Because they can handle a slight freeze, hardy annuals are good choices for early fall and late spring planting. However, sustained freezing temperatures or a really good dip in mercury will do them in if they are not protected.

Half-hardy plants can survive a couple encounters with chilly night temperatures (35 – 45 degrees Fahrenheit) and light frost, but anything colder will cause their demise without some type of shelter.
Most tender plants are actually tropical perennials. Tender annuals include begonias, impatiens and zinnia.
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Plants in this category can’t handle anything colder than 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Careful Planting

Minimize the need to winterize your garden by identifying any frost packets prior to planting.

A frost pocket is an area of land that has a higher risk of frost, and a longer season of frost.  They are most commonly found in valleys, where cold air hovers for longer than surrounding areas, particularly where hedging or other “shelter” traps the cool air, and prevents it from escaping.

Avoiding planting any type of florae other than the hardiest species if your garden happens to lie in a frost pocket. If you have plants which are likely to suffer, place them in more sheltered positions such as along a wall, or a spot that gets plenty of sunlight.

Depending on how hardy your plant is, when the forecast calls for frost or snow, protecting it may only require you to simply cover it. But more tender plants will need some TLC for the entire season.

While sheltering will give them a fighting chance, it does not guarantee that they will survive- especially if they are young or have been weakened by pests or disease (we recommend using Sun Joe’s organic pest repellent during warmer weather).

If your plant is potted, or small enough to be dug up, you can easily move it indoors for the winter if you have room. Sun Joe digging tools make relocating plants an easy task.

Protection Methods

While there are countless ways to protect plants over the winter, Joe is highlighting the best methods which have become the most popular among gardeners.

Wire + Straw

This technique provides shelter for plants which need permanent protection from Jack Frost.

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Using chicken wire, simply construct a framework around the plant. If your plant is very wide or tall, it’s wise to anchor the wire mesh by hammering stakes into the soil to ensure it won’t topple over.

Simply stuff the cage with straw, taking care that all parts of the plant are tucked beneath a foot of the material.

Pack more straw on top and then use jute or another breathable, yet insulate material to prevent the straw from flying away.

Screens

Sheets of transparent insulating material like polycarbonate can be simply draped over shrubs, and hoisted down with bricks or rocks.

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Alternatively, this sheeting can also be used to create a makeshift greenhouse to protect tender, wall trailed fruits or climbers. A wooden frame is erected with ends left open at the bottom for proper ventilation.

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You can also use glass, but take care to ensure it is well supported, and you remove any snow accumulation to prevent breaking.

Fleece/Bubble Wrap

Horticultural fleece is an inexpensive method to provide minimal protection to frost hardy plants if the forecast is calling for exceptionally hard weather.

Fleece can be laid over soil and pegged down or  wrapped around a plant and tied in place.

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If you have bubble wrap lying around, it’s also an excellent material that provides a bit more insulation. Just know that it restricts air from reaching the plant and should only be used for a brief period of time.

 Snow Frame

A snow frame is a v-shaped structure most commonly made from wood to fit over the plant to protect it from snowfall.

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Making your own is fool-proof. Gather two pieces of plywood and fasten them together at a right angle. Affix two more pieces to connect the bottom so the structure will hold in place and not buckle under the weight of the snow.