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How To Care for Plants During Harsh Winter Months

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During wintertime, most garden plants enter a period of dormancy due to the cold, harsh weather. Preparing outdoor plants for the winter season will ensure that they will survive and wake up undamaged and healthy in the spring. The right type of continued care throughout the winter months will also minimize damages that could occur. Below are some steps for ensuring that garden plants are kept safe during winter.

1. Remove dead leaves, mulches and other garden debris from summer before the ground begins to freeze in the fall. This is very important, because soil substances usually harbor disease that can attack garden plants so they become vulnerable in the springtime.

2. Put down fresh mulch. Use 2 to 4 inches of straw mulch over surface roots of shrubs and trees to protect them and help preserve moisture in the soil. Do the same for perennial flower beds. This will protect the crowns of the garden plants from becoming frost bitten. It will also prevent frost heave that is caused by the ground thawing and then refreezing. 

3. Check for soil moisture around shrubs and evergreen trees whenever the ground thaws during the winter season. Water the evergreens when soil becomes dry and is not frozen. This is important, because otherwise the needles or leaves could turn brown and die.

4. Put up wind breaks for garden plants not in sheltered areas. Surround the plants with wrap burlap and stakes. This will break the wind without trapping any heat that could burn plants on sunny days.

5. Bring annual flowers, such as begonias, impatiens, coleus and geraniums inside to protect them during winter. Ensure that they get adequate light and water. In springtime, they may be replanted outdoors.

6. Move all container garden plants to the inside to protected areas during the winter months. The roots will be very vulnerable in containers during winter. Place them inside a shed or garage location where they are away from winter winds.

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