If you are an avid gardener, you know well enough that growing plants in containers is a tough job. Even more so is when winter comes around and you need to invest effort in keeping plants safe.
There are many challenges for your potted plants during winter: drying out, wind, sudden temperature drops and root damage, to name a few. Even hardy plants, which are acclimated to your zone, can sustain damage during the cold season. The top part of a plant may be dormant, but the roots don’t enter such a state. Any plant in a container will have its roots exposed to ambient temperatures. Here is how you can protect root systems in the winter:
Avoid exposing plants to temperature fluctuations – fluctuating temperatures are the main issue of winter. Going from hot and cold can stress roots and cause other side effects. For instance, it is common for such fluctuations to heave the plant out of the pot. That is easy to avoid when you place the pots on the ground and not on pavement. The main source of heath comes from the earth. A problem with pots on pavement is that it can get warmed up significantly during the day, elevating the temperatures. Then, when night comes, the temperatures drop, leading to unfavorable fluctuations.
Choose big pots – most expert gardeners agree that the larger the pot, the better for the plant. The reason is rather simple: with an increased volume of soil, the plant roots will be far better insulated. A small container doesn’t do a decent job at keeping roots safe from cold temperatures. A smaller container will also freeze faster and dry out roots quicker than a large one. For this reason, opt for a pot that is at least an inch thick.
Plant early – planting your flowers in containers and pots as soon as possible gives them enough time to harden off. That way, when winter comes around, plants will be healthy and mature, ready to tolerate the stresses of the season. Avoid planting in late autumn, as that is not sufficient time for plants to harden off. A cool trick you can borrow from gardeners is to pick plants that are used to hardiness two zones cooler from the one you are located in.
Find a proper location of the pot – the place of the pots also matters a lot. Ideally, you want to place pots on the north side of your property, with more shade. Any spot that experiences a great deal of sun is susceptible to big temperature swings and so should be avoided. Then there is also the interest factor: you want to put plants that have attractive features somewhere they will be easily seen. As such, place them near a window or your front door for easy exposure.
By following these tips and tricks, you can make it easier for your potted plants to make it through the winter. That is how your gardening efforts will be awarded.