Keep Your Plants Safe During Winter

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This is a picture of my flowering bushes during their prime in May. They were so lush and beautiful as I pruned them throughout spring and summer, but now they have withered to mere dead bulbs and shriveled branches as winter draws near.

It can be a sorry sight to see, but I know in my heart of hearts that they will return next season in all their full-bloom glory. But to ensure we get twice the flowering output from last season, there are some we things can do in the meantime as the bushes enter the dormant season.

Now since I live in Georgia, I do not live in a harsh winter zone, but there are times when it reaches freezing temperatures, and there is word that snow may return this winter season.

Regardless of how cold it may be, there are ways to safeguard your plants this winter and the next.

Natural Protection

The first thing to do is to water extensively water before the winter season approaches, roughly in September. Then spread some mulch around the base of the plant. Mulch is crucial in locking moisture in the ground, and it is an effective deterrent against weeds during the warmer seasons.

Dry mulch is preferable, since we need as few moisture-retaining elements as possible in order prevent freezing. You can use dry mulch, straw or both. The most importing thing is protecting the base of the plant to nurture the integrity of the roots.

Fertilizers should never be used after August. At this point, it only prevents the roses from becoming dormant, which is the best thing at this stage.

As your plant begins to shrivel, there is a natural tendency to want to begin pruning, but this is not as important as the roots. As long as the roots are intact, you'll have a full-bloom season in the spring.

When it comes to forming that solid base, try not to disrupt the soil itself, since you don't want to interfere with the roots in any fashion.

Some pruning can be done, but the only thing that should be cut away are leftover leaves. Leftover leaves tend to zap nutrients from your bushes, and begins to wear heavily on the plant over time.

Plants do fine on their own, but man-made protection will also help your plant survive the elements.

Artificial Protection

Though it may look your garden look a bit unsightly, there's no harm in wrapping your bushes in a tarp or covering. This is an effective barrier against frost damages, and it is useful for snowy nights. The weight of the snow also tends to damage your branches limbs and can zap nutrients from the plants. If you have any leftover burlap from your previous plant purchases, feel free to use that, or some other form of light covering like bed sheets so long as the protection does not wear too heavily on the plant and break any branches. You may want to use twine or chicken wire to bunch up any plants, but be careful in doing so. Tie any covering to the ground with a stake in order to prevent the wind from shifting the covering and possibly damaging your plants.

Covering your plant in a timely manner is also essential. If you cover it too early, you stand the risk of slowing down the dormant process. The right time to cover the plant would be after the first frost. Check your local weather station to see if frost will be consistent.

With all that being said, I can speak from experience in saying that I did not have to cover my plants at all one year ago, and I did not prune at all. But my flowers shined with grand luminescence this season. I would only recommend covering plants in extremely frigid weather, or during temperate winter climates. There are times when your flowers will be tricked during fluctuating winter seasons by coming out of dormancy during warm spots of the season. If this happens, having a cover will protect them at all times.

But even if you do not cover your plant at all, it will not be too harmful to your plant, since they are naturally suited to deal with the elements.

In the meantime, hunker indoors and wait for the bloom season.

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