If you love flowers and working on your flower garden then you may be bummed when the winter months come along and kill off your flowers or send them into dormancy. A flower garden in full bloom is much nicer to look at than one that is brown and dead. There are some types of flowers that you will need to replant each year. These are called annuals and they typically do not grow back in the spring after dying off in the winter. Perennials are flowers that can come back and bloom year after year. However, perennials still need some care to help them get through the winter and come back strong in the spring.
- Cut everything back
Cutting your plants back as they enter the dormant phase will help them through the winter and into the spring. The time of year and the amount you need to cut back will depend on the type of plant. For example, some plants need to be cut down all the way to ground level so the roots are protected from the cold. Others simply need the old blooms to be cut away to encourage the appearance of new blooms in the spring. Learn about the specific types of perennial plants in your garden so you do the right amount of pruning at the right time of year.
- Remove diseased plants and other debris
Plants that have been killed off from disease continue to be a threat to the rest of your garden even after they have died. If you have any remnants of diseased plants in your garden be sure and remove them as the cooler months move in. This will keep the diseased plants from spreading the disease to your healthy plants. Dead plant material can be used as a type of mulch but if it is diseased it puts the rest of your garden at risk. Get it away from your garden and do not add it to the compost pile. Other debris in your garden can create a space for harmful pests to spend the winter. Sometimes all these pests need to make it through the colder months is the shelter of a piece of wood or a hollowed out tree branch. Clean this debris out of the garden to encourage these pests to find shelter elsewhere.
- Put down a layer of protective mulch
A layer of mulch can go a long way toward protecting the roots and bulbs of your perennial flowers through the winter. You can used store bought mulch or make your own using pine needles, cut up leaves, or hay. The amount of mulch you need depends on the severity of the winters in your part of the country. Anywhere from four to six inches of mulch should be enough to protect flower gardens in most areas of the US.
The dormancy period is important for many types of perennial flowers. This period gives them time to ‘rest’ so they can return strong in the spring. A little time in your flower garden during the winter can protect your perennial flowers from the extremes of the weather so they continue to come back year after year.