Your garden requires extra care and attention as temperatures drop and fall steadily transforms into winter. In West Texas, you’ll need to evaluate the climate – including the length of the cold season – and the type of extra care needed to help plants survive the season.
The following are techniques that can help your plants survive the winter while keeping them healthy for the spring growing season ahead.
- Bring potted plants indoors
An easy solution for dealing with colder weather is to bring potted and hanging plants indoors for the winter. Some rules to follow for keeping potted plants inside your home include:
*Putting plants near vents can dry them out.
*Place potted plants by windows which get the most sunlight.
*Don’t place your plants too close to windows during periods of freezing temperatures.
- Winter mulching
A layer of mulch acts as an insulator that holds heat and moisture in the soil which, in turn, protects your plants’ root systems from cold temperatures. It’s important to remove mulch when the temperatures begin to warm up in the spring.
- Cover plants during a hard freeze
Temperatures may drop so far that even winter-hardy plants struggle to survive. Make sure you properly cover plants during a hard freeze, using lightweight fabrics such as blankets or garden row covers. You shouldn’t wrap plants in plastic because the plastic that touches the plant moves heat away from it. If you use plastic, make sure that it’s supported by frames or hoops that keep it away from plants.
- Water your plants
You may heavily water your plants before a freeze or particularly cold night because the soil traps the heat better wet than when it is dry. It’s best to do this before a typical frost but not a hard freeze, however. Also, don’t water soil that’s already frozen because it may make conditions even more difficult for your plants.
- Choose plants that are suitable for your climate
It’s important to know your region’s growing zone (as determined by the United States Department of Agriculture. It helps you choose plants that can withstand your region’s harshest temperatures. It’s always helpful to talk to experts, such as people from your local nursery, who can tell you what to expect from certain plants during the winter.
*One strategy is to replace your annuals – which die each year – with flowers that can withstand freezing temperatures, including pansies, violets, petunias, snapdragons, and more.
*Hardy vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, carrots, kale, spinach, collards, and turnips.
- Cold frames
Building a simple, temporary cold frame will help protect your plants during the cold season. Just make sure that your cold frame has adequate ventilation and that you open it up to allow air to circulate when daytime temperatures are warmer.