Winter is here with cold temperatures, frost and even snow in some areas. We as human shiver with cold and curl up. But do plants have the same reflex? How do plants, flowers and trees withstand the winter? For indoor plants it’s easier and some outdoor plants can be kept inside in a safe place but it’s more complicated for our favourite outdoor flowers. Here are our tips to help them during winter.
In winter most plants reduce their activity
Outdoor plants have to resist to cold and lack of sunshine. Many plants get in sleep, not at the stage of hibernation as some animals do, but enough to reduce their activity to protect themselves.
- Deciduous trees lose their leaves in the fall and naturally face winter almost “undressed”. This loss of leaves is actually a phenomenon quite natural that saves its water reserves and avoid evaporation from the leaves. These trees provide protection to their buds thanks to a strong protective kind of envelope scales.
- Trees that don’t lose their leaves resist the harsh winter because they use very little water. Moreover, at fall, their leaves become darker or a little brown to be able to capture more sunlight.
- Other plants reduce their leaves, flowers at a maximum. If you look carefully only very few buds or flowers remain. The purpose is to store and maintain the maximum energy to the roots.
- Bulbs and other tubers are well protected from the cold in a more or less thick layer of soil. Folded on themselves, they survive because they concentrate all the energy in the bulb and roots.
- Other species have a life cycle of one to two years, so annual or biennial plants and therefore, do not worry if these plants die at the end of this natural cycle. Before dying, they release seeds that will grow back in spring.
Help plants to face variation in temperatures
For your ornamental potted plants in your garden or in your apartment, some basic principles apply in winter to keep them in the best conditions. Frost can be fatal to some plants but variation in temperatures is also a danger. Plants called “non-rustic” must be placed inside to be protected from frost. It deals with plants that do not face the cold/frost in their natural environment and would definitely not resist. This is particularly important for bonsai, olive tree, hibiscus, bougainvillaea or exotic/tropical flowers Best advice is to keep your plants in a cool and airy place. You can also protect your plants by building a greenhouse or by placing straw around the stems and directly in the soil. Some bulbs keep well in a box that will protect them from light and dry.
In winter, light is vital, heat is fatal
As for the plants in our overheated apartments, they sometimes struggle to resist the winter … precisely because of the heat. Indeed placing your flowers or plants near a heater is not ideal. Often the leaves turn yellow and this is not due to a lack of water but a lack of light. The worse threat for plants in winter is a darkened room. Your mission is to find a good balance between watering, light and heat. Water sprayed on the leaves can be essential for certain exotic plants which need a stable humidity level. Remember to empty water cups, as over watering can rot the plant.
Looking for winter plants? Amaryllis, anthurium, orchid, Kalanchoe are seasonal plants to enjoy at no risk!