Winter gardening sounds like an oxymoron, as we usually think more about sun and warm weather when it comes to working in the garden. Creating a beautiful garden come spring time can largely depend on keeping plants healthy during the winter months. As a result, winter gardening is focused more on protecting plants and preparing them for survival when the temperature cools.
When the temperature drops below 30 degrees at night, there are a few steps you can take that will help protect your plants from frost.
- Turn on the water: When nighttime temperatures start to dip, it is beneficial to water plants one or two days before. Moist soil holds in the warmth much more than dry soil.
- Cover up: Get out the sheets, blankets, or run to the neighborhood nursery for some plastic plant covers to wrap up your trees and shrubs. Covering the plants will keep them warm and protect against the frost.
- Get cozy: Don’t stop at covering the plants, cover the ground as well. Fallen leaves, mulch, or straw all works as good ground cover to keep the roots cozy and warm.
- Make a move: Potted plants and flowers should be moved closer to the house, under covered patios and eaves. Bringing them in, so to speak, out of the cold and under the outdoor lighting helps warm them up.
When frost hits and plants are not protected, the actual plant cell can freeze, causing leaves and branches to die. These dead leaves and branches need to remain on the plant as protection and only trimmed once the weather heats up to make way for new growth. Popular desert plants that are highly susceptible to frost damage include bougainvillea, hibiscus, and some native cactus.
To help ensure your garden grows and flourishes year-round, consider planting a few hearty, frost tolerant plants mixed in with your flowering bougainvillea and hibiscus. Doing so will keep your garden looking good when a cold front hits.