Plant Care for Dummies : Winter Care for your Plants and Garden
The winter is here and the days are already colder and shorter – also darker. A change in season also means a change in the way your plants behave, their needs, and their growth patterns. Just like any other season, prepping your garden for winters is very essential, more so if you stay in an area that sees harsh winters.
Prepping your gardens for winter is also not only about seeing your plants through the cold months but also about how easy and fruitful you want your spring gardening to be. A few well-planned steps and your garden ill thank you for it in the long run and you will thank your foresight.
Let’s get down to discussing the steps for your winter garden prep. Let’s first understand what your plants go through in winters and what changes can you expect to see.
- As the temperatures dip, so does the hormonal activity in your plants and they go dormant; thereby arresting their growth for the largest part. So don’t get worried if your plan does not sprout any new leaf in these winter months or does not grow significantly in size.
- Some sun and summer loving plants like the Ficus microcarpa might shed a few leaves due to the dip in temperatures. But worry not, if the shedding is purely seasonal, then the leaves will come back when the sun makes a reappearance and the temperature climbs up.
- If you want you home garden to be colourful even in winter months then the best way is to incorporate winter flowering plants like Pansies, Hollyhocks, Asters, and many more.
- Save your tropical foliage plants from the harsh dry and cold winds of winter with a humidifier or by simply placing a vessel of water in the middle of your plant huddle.
- Winter also means pest season. If you see unexpected spider nets, white cottony growth under leaves and small flying insects hovering around your plants, then its time to be alert and take measures. So keep checking your plants every time you water them.
Since the plants undergo so many changes, there are also some steps that need to be taken to prep your garden.
- Do not shock your plants in winters. No repotting or changing of soil.
- Prune your summer plants at the start of winter to make space for new growth when spring comes.
- Add your organic matter before winter and mulch the topsoil if your area experiences harsh winters to protect the roots. If you can’t find mulch to protect the soil, using sphagnum moss is also a great idea.
- Huddle your plants together to create a microclimate of warmth and humidity. Keep the smaller and more delicate plants in the centre and the sturdier and more established plants along the periphery.
- Move your plants away from direct drafts from ACs and room heaters. Also, keep them away from doors and windows that open frequently and let in gusts of cold wind through the day to reduce the ambient temperature of the plants.
- Spray your plants with neem oil every two weeks as a preventive measure. It’s easier to keep the pests at bay than getting rid of them.
- Reduce your watering frequency. Make sure to check the topsoil before watering your plants. As the light intensity reduces and the plants enter a dormant phase, so does their requirement of water. Also, loss of water through surface evaporation is also low, further lowering the water requirements.
Now finally let’s take a look at what steps you can take to winterise your gardens.
- Clean up all yellowing and diseased leaves. Winter is also big season and fallen diseased leaves can be a breeding ground for them.
- Remove all the weeds that might have grown over the growing season to prevent leaching of nutrients by the weeds.
- Amend your soil for your spring planting. Add in your manures, compost, bone meal, and so on. It give the soil to assimilate all the nutrients and be ready when its time for spring planting.
- If you have flower bulbs in your garden, it’s the right time to dig and divide the bulbs before winter sets in. This will provide overcrowding and helps them flower beautifully in season.
- Winter is also a good time to start germinating your vegetable seeds in indoor locations. Germinating seeds outdoors can be an issue die to dipping temperatures, so start them indoors where its warmer.
These steps are easy but essential to get your garden ready for this season. The cold months of winter always lead to the bountiful season of spring and its essential to prep for it well in time.