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How to Protect Your Container Garden From Frost

Temperatures usually don’t get cold enough to really harm my plants until January or February here at the beach in So Cal (and then we’re only talking about the low 40s), but I hear that those of you in the rest of the country start getting pretty cold weather about this time of year. Here are some tips to protect your plants and pots from cold snaps.

  1. Move Plants Indoors: If possible, move your plants into a sunny window inside your home. Obviously you want to make sure they are free of pests before moving them inside. To keep them bushy, pinch them back if they become leggy. If that’s not possible, move your plants to your garage or a shed. Many plants become dormant during the winter and won’t miss the sunlight. To help them get ready for dormancy, slow down their watering schedule for several weeks before moving them. Once they’re in the garage, only give them enough water to keep the soil from completely drying out.
  2. Make a Tent: If your pots are too big to move indoors, or you don’t have room for them, it’s pretty easy to create a tent to help keep your plants warm. If possible, move them up against a wall or the building. Then stick bamboo stakes (available in your garden center) into your pots so that the top of the stakes are about 6 inches above the plant. You’ll also need a painters’ tarp, you can get disposable ones for pretty cheap, but be sure to get one that is substantial, not too flimsy. Then drape the tarp over the stakes. Weigh down the edges with empty pots or rocks. During the day, be sure to open up one side to let in fresh air and keep things from getting too damp under the plastic.
  3. Wrap Your Pots in Bubble Wrap: I’ve never done this, as my area doesn’t really get that cold, but the Brooklyn Botanical Garden recommends wrapping the pots of marginally hardy plants in special bubble wrap that you can find at your local nursery.

What do you do to protect your perennial plants during the winter?

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