An ounce of prevention keeps cold weather from harming your plants

I’m reading a flyer on cold weather and plants put out by the Tarrant County Horticultural Office and the first advice is if it can’t handle the cold don’t plant it. Clearly this was not written by a gardener. ;-)

Skipping that sage advice and moving on to more useful notes we have: Plant tender plants in warm, protected locations. ( I guess design is not a consideration either. )

The most protected areas for tender plants are:

Close to your home, underneath overhanging eaves.

The best location is under an eave on a south facing side of your home. The house will soak up sunlight all day and radiate it out in the evening.

The least protected areas for tender plants are:

Open areas that are exposed all around particularly on the north side. The north winds are a main cause of damage.

Shallow areas that are enclosed. Colder air will drop and it will settle into low protected spots in your garden.


1 ) Fertilize in October to give your plants the nutrients they need for the winter, then not again until late March. Do not fertilize them in the winter. Plants in an active state of growth and newer leaves and stems are most likely to be damaged by the cold.

2) Reduce but do not stop watering your plants. Plants stressed by a lack of water will incur more harm.

3) Wait until spring to prune the damage! If you prune too soon, you will get new growth which will be killed by the next frost. And plants that seem damaged beyond hope often are not. Be patient.

4 ) Mulch heavily around tender plants in the fall. Leaves, newspapers, bark, straw all work well. Mulch high around tender plants. Some people use the pipe insulation tubes you can buy at the hardware store to protect tree trunks and other tall thin plants.

5 ) If the weather looks really bad, take cuttings of your favorite plants. Plant them in sphagnum and you’ll have a starter plant to replace ones that don’t survive