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How to Prepare Your Perennial Plants for Winter

Frost on the tree

You can buy holiday gifts and cards ahead of time, you can keep your eyes on the prize and plan ahead for the big holiday dinner. But one thing you must do this winter is prepare your garden for the incoming cold.

Why is it so important to prepare your plants?

The roots of your plants have the ability to become well established during the winter—in cold, moist weather.

The soil is still processing organic material, particularly those that are newly transported. To encourage this, to make sure that this happens, it's actually best to keep your soil frozen.

Snow can actually protect your plants, insulating the soil to encourage this process.


The big question here is "when?" Of course, preparing your plants also depends on the climate of where you live.

As a general rule, if your plants bloom between early spring and late June, then you should move your plants for winter hardening in the early fall. If your plants bloom in late June, then you should do it in early spring.


Many people choose to grow perennials because they're easier to maintain when compared to other plants and flowers. They grow year-long, and many of them can withstand colder climates.

They "hide out" during the winter, and come back strong every year if they are properly taken care of.

Note that these are different from annual plants, which only last for a single year. Perennial plants include evergreens (such as begonias and bananas), deciduous (mint), monocarpic (agave), woody (pine, maple, apple trees), and herbaceous (alfalfa).


pruning rosemary

To start readying your perennial plants, be sure to remove all wilted leaves and decaying plants. In removing any dying (or dead) plants, you are actively preventing disease and removing the chance of harmful insects. Then, cut stems to 1-2 inches from the ground.

A good way to insulate the soil, add a layer (about 4-6 inches) of mulch, which may consist of hay, straw, or peat moss. Wait until the ground freezes before you add the mulch to ensure that you're getting the best results.

For bigger perennial plants, you can cut back the foliage by at least half. Think of this as a yearly haircut; your plant will look much better in the coming year.

If it looks like your perennials aren't growing much, don't worry! It's the roots that are the concern during this time.


blueberry flower buds

Some types of perennial plants will require slightly different care.

Evergreen perennials should not be trimmed in the fall. Usually, you should be trimmed right after blooming. The lower leaves must be left alone in the fall, and they should be touched up in the spring.

Woody perennials should also be left alone during the fall, and pruned in the spring. Ensure to leave roughly 6 inches of stem so that new buds can grow.


One major benefit of growing such perennials as mint in an Urban Cultivator indoor garden is that not only do you not have to prepare and move your plants, but you can grow them throughout the winter.

Urban Cultivator units give you the ability to grow a variety of microgreens, vegetables, and herbs 24/7/365.

Do you have any tips on how to prepare your plants for the winter? Let us know in the comments section!

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