Perennial plants can be a foundational part of the overall look and organization of your garden. Since they come back year after year you can plan your annual plants around the perennials that you expect to return. They are generally low maintenance but still require some care and attention to make it through the winter and return in the spring. Thankfully, the process of preparing your perennial plants for winter is quick and simple.
- Determine the hardiness of your plants
The hardiness of plants is a way to describe their ability to withstand the low temperatures in different areas. The way to determine if a plant is hardy enough for your area is to see how it matches up on the hardiness zone map. The hardiness zone map classifies the zones based on the extreme minimum temperature average in an area. Your perennial plants are more likely to survive and thrive if their hardiness zone is the same as the hardiness zone for your area. If the hardiness zones match up then your perennial plants are going to be relatively low maintenance. If they do not match up, there is still hope for your plants but they may require extra care if the weather in your area gets extreme. Determining which of your plants are more susceptible to the changes in weather will help you make a plan to prepare them for the colder months.
- Cut back your plants
The best time to cut back your perennial plants depends on both the plant and the area of the country in which you live. In general, you need to cut back your perennial plants as you move into the winter months. If you live in one of the colder zones of the country a good time to cut back your plants is after the first major frost. Cutting back the plants cleans up your garden and reduces the likelihood of disease being spread and killing off the roots of your perennials. This will help your plants make it through the winter and return healthy in the springtime.
- Clean the debris out of your garden
As you cut back your plants take the time to clean up any other debris that is lingering in your garden or flowerbeds. Debris can provide pests with a place to live and survive through the colder months. These pests can attack the roots of your plants or the new growth as it emerges in the spring. The other benefit of cleaning out your garden before the winter comes is that it will be prepared in the spring when you start working on it again.
- Add a layer of mulch
A four to six inch layer of mulch can help protect the roots of your perennials through the weather changes in the winter. Use mulch that resists getting compacted such as straw, shredded leaves, or pine needles. For the perennials in your garden that fall within the hardiness zone of your area, this layer of mulch should be enough to protect them through the winter.
Following these four simple steps as the winter approaches will help you ensure that the perennial plants in your garden return in the spring.