The warm summer season is fading and now it’s time to start getting ready for winter. Depending on the specific climate of your region, the winterizing tasks for your container garden are going to be different.
The biggest thing you can do to minimize the amount of work you needed at this time of year is to buy plants specifically suited for your climate zone.
If you live in a very temperate, warm and rainy area then you can get away with minimal fuss and not too many things to worry about. Your biggest concern will be protecting your plants from drowning in the months of rain that some areas get.
If you live in a place that’s drier and cold that stays cold for months at a time, then you’ll have to put a little more effort into the protection of your containers.
Since containers freeze more quickly and more solidly, they are exposed to more intense cold than if they were planted in the ground. The gound insulates the plants significantly.
Container plants are at a much higher risk of dying in a prolonged winter if they are in containers. Some areas are so cold, it’s not possible to do any container gardening.
This method is called “Sacking”.
First go to your local nursery and buy some “Frost Cover” sheets sometimes it’s known as horticultural fleece. It looks like a thin white sheet of fabric. Also, pick up some burlap bags or sheets and twine while you’re there too.
How much of this you’ll need is relative to how big your garden is or how many containers you have to cover. If you are dealing in a small space or only a few containers then you’ll likely only need one package of each.
Use the white fabric to make a “tent” around your shrubs and blueberry plants. Secure it with twine or clothes pegs.This will create a slightly warmer environment for your plants to have when the outside area is much colder.
Use the burlap on the container only, wrap it around several times 2 to 3 layers should be enough. Then secure the burlap with the twine. Repeat this for all of your containers.
- For any shrubs or plants like blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or currants take a sheet of frost cover large enough to drape over the entire plant. Place it loosely over the plant before the burlap layer.
- Use 2′ -3′ stakes to keep it from resting directly on the plant and pulling down delicate branches.
- Secure the lower edges with the twine tying it around the whole container. Then add the burlap layer around the container itself.
You can also pull the containers nearer to each other, so they can “huddle”, this can sometimes offer a little more protection for each one of them by working together. Your smallest containers should be put in the middle of the huddle.
- If you live in an area that gets very cold for a prolonged period, then I recommend that you put straw around the containers before you pull them together.
Hay vs Straw
It’s very important to use straw and not hay. Hay is the first cut of a field and still has the seed heads attached. These seeds will sprout at the first opportunity in a favourable environment.
Straw is the second cut of a field and contains no seed heads and will not sprout a nightmare in your garden.
- You can also use the same method above but use plastic bubble wrap around the containers. This will likely be more expensive than burlap but could be used year to year if you store it properly.
- Another option is to use straw and chicken wire. Use the chicken wire to make a circular cage around the container from the ground up to the top of the plant that you are trying to protect and then fill it will straw. This method is a little bit messy to clean up in the spring but is very effective.
- In some stores you’ll find “umbrella” style plant protectors made from frost cover material that you just pop open like an umbrella and place over the plant. These are more expensive but certainly an easy and good option.
Unless you have a very cold winter these methods should be enough to bring our plants through winter safely to bloom in spring.
What is winter like in your area? Is it really cold or not so much?