Protecting plants in Seattle’s winter wonderland

What? Snow in Seattle? Yes. It happens ... and when it does, you need to think about your plants.

A Seattle snowfall may look delightful, coming down and coating the land with white, but are your plants enjoying the winter weather as much as you and your kids are? Severe winter weather means it’s time to protect your plants. Just as you put on extra layers and bundle up to stay warm, many of your plants may be marginally hardy and also need extra protection from the cold.

We live in a “Maritime Climate” where Puget Sound, our lakes and streams absorb and hold summer heat. This heat is released during the winter months, generally keeping our climate warmer and allowing us a broader range of plants that can flourish here. However, when we have our occasional big freezes, these “marginally hardy plants will often die back to the ground. So first, check your plants for hardiness. Delicate plants will require you to take special pre-cautions. If you have containers, bring them into a protected area, such as the garage or under a carport or next to the house during cold spells.

Don’t forget to water plants that you have temporarily moved indoors or under a roof covering, as they can continue to transpire (loose water from their leaves). If the roots freeze in the pots, they cannot absorb water to supply the leaves and will dry out and die. Dry soil and cold temperatures is a deadly combination.

Next, for the more delicate plants which must remain outside in the cold weather; consider covering these tender plants with a clear plastic sheet that still allows air to flow. Add a few inches of mulch to the base of these plants to help keep the roots from freezing. This helps protect the roots and base of the plant if our Seattle temperature happens to dip below freezing. Typically, mulch is bark, straw, sawdust, peat moss, leaves, or grass clippings. Some plants need a mound of mulch protection to cover them, other plants need it spread away from the trunk to protect the roots which extend out to the plants “drip line”.

Contact our office for help with protecting your plants with mulch.

Shake the snow or icicles off of plants and trees to prevent limbs from breaking. Use Christmas lights or an incandescent utility light to add just enough heat to protect fruit trees from the freezing temperatures.

Protecting your plants in the winter means your Seattle winter wonderland will turn from white to beautiful colors and shades of green in spring.

Wishing you all a happy gardening experience.


Category: Tips for Planting

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