Winter’s cool temperatures with Colorado’s bright sun can create landscape challenges unique to homeowners in Colorado. To prevent lasting damage to your landscape this winter, here are a few easy tips on how to prepare outdoor plants for the worst of winter.
Protect plant roots from the cold
For more cold-resistant plants, prioritize protecting the roots over the branches. To protect roots from freezing temperatures, add extra covering near the plant’s stem or trunk to insulate the ground from cold air. The best covering includes adding extra mulch, straw, wood chips, blankets, and tarps. Be sure to use stones, bricks, or stakes to keep the non-mulch covering from blowing away. Additionally, water plants before the storm, unless the plants are cacti or succulents. Water holds heat far more effectively than dry soil and will keep your plant’s roots above freezing temperatures.
Prevent snow and ice damage
Any plant or tree is susceptible to damage from heavy snow and ice, even those native to Colorado. The cold isn’t the main concern for established native trees and plants; stiff winds and the heavy weight of accumulated ice and snow can break smaller trees and branches, which can damage the entire tree.
The key to protecting plants from snow and ice is to prevent accumulation. Wrap smaller branches together with a strong cloth to withstand accumulation. If there are too many smaller branches, it may just be time for a pruning of weaker of smaller branches. If you’re worried about smaller plants, use a tee-pee shaped wood frame to keep snow and ice off the plant entirely. Blankets and tarps will also work to distribute the weight more evenly, and the snow can easily be shaken off after the storm by removing the covering.
Apply Anti-Desiccant to Shrubs
Anti-desiccant is a product which acts as an extra protective coating for plants in cold weather. Made from pine tree resin, the coating is sprayed onto plants who may be susceptible to damage from freezing temperatures. Anti-desiccant dries to the plant’s leaves to form a clear, colorless, and flexible film which will allow the plants to breath and absorb the sun’s energy through photosynthesis.
Anti-desiccant can also work to protect plant leaves from the sun. Cold, dry temperatures can cause plants to lose moisture in the trunk and leaves, which are then more susceptible to sun damage – like humans getting sun burn.
Protect outdoor potted plants by placing the pots on top of a dolly. Roll the pots inside the home or garage ahead of freezing temperatures to avoid damage. As potted plants are above ground, the roots are far more susceptible to the air’s freezing temperatures than plants which grow in the ground and will need extra care to survive. Immature roots can die in outdoor potted plants at 23 degrees F, while immature roots planted in the ground may survive -10 and -20 F.
If wheeling your potted plants indoors is not an option, place pots on top of the dirt rather than concrete or pavement. Sunny days can warm concrete and pavement much more rapidly than the group, especially in Colorado, and lose heat when the sun sets. The rapid fluctuation in temperature can harm a plant’s roots, whereas the earth’s ground keeps a much more stable temperature.