Protecting Sensitive Plants for the Winter

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by emulkahi1, Oct 30, 2006.

  1. emulkahi1

    emulkahi1 Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Central MT
    Hello All--

    Yesterday was a balmy 70 degrees here in central MT. However, last night the temps plummeted and we are now at a wintery 23F. Tonight it is supposed to go down to 12F or lower.

    I have several plants in my garden that are borderline on their zones (we are Zone 4 and I have a few out there that are only hardy to Zone 5 or so). It wouldn't be the end of the world if I lost them, but if all that they need is a bit of extra protection, I was thinking it would be nice if they would survive for next year's growing season.

    Is there a 'best' way to go about protecting them? I remember seeing one gentleman's perennial garden....in the winter it looked like he was growing upside down styrafoam coolers :). Of course, I've also heard of just mounding mulch up around the plant. I've got a bunch of rosemary seedlings (less than 4" tall) that I'd like to help make it through the winter (I've dug one up and brought it inside, in case they don't though). Their leaves are still green, even though we've already had many hard freezes (into the 20's). Do I completely bury them in the mulch? Would it be bad for them to be in darkness all winter long? (LOL-somehow that feels like it might be a silly question, but I am unsure...).

    This might also sound silly, but...We have LOTS of that packaging bubble wrap. I thought maybe I could wrap my little rose transplant (which should be hardy in Zone 4, but since I only just transplanted it this year, I thought it might help it if it had some extra protection?) with that. It's branches are ~8 in. long each, so it would be a bit high to mulch completely....I don't know... :shrug:

    Anyway, I have been told that garden hardiness zone's could be manipulated with a bit of extra work/protection, so I was just wondering about what has worked for you all .

    (I am still wondering where on earth the summer went. Feels like just yesterday it was planting season, and here I am getting ready for almost single digit temps....)...

    Thanks everyone :) !!

    Erin

    Thought of another kinda related question. My carrots are still in the ground. We are going to be traveling for the next 3 weeks or so (leaving Nov 2). Is it alright to just leave them in the ground? I think I have heard of people doing that. Otherwise, I will dig them and put them in their buckets of moist sand before we leave. That worked well last year! We were eating fresh carrots from last year when I was planting this year's crop :hobbyhors .
     
  2. omnicat

    omnicat Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Central Ohio
    Just going to comment on a couple of things. The bubble-wrap idea for long term wintering sounds bad. Yes, it'll keep them a bit warmer, but on sunny days, would act as a greenhouse, and they'd get much warmer than they should - possibly even suffering from burning.

    I have dug carrots in February and March. They're not quite as sweet by then, but they were pretty darned good. Don't worry about your carrots, they'll be fine until you get back.

    maybe rose cones (or the like) for the rosemary transplants? I haven't been able to get MATURE rosemary to winter over in Zone 5/6...so I would have no clue about getting young ones through winter there.

    I usually grow rosemary through the season, layer a few new plants from the old ones in late august, and then dig the transplants, and put them someplace sunny and cool - a breezway or attic window have both worked for me.
     

  3. Marcia in MT

    Marcia in MT Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Location:
    northcentral Montana
    I live in Great Falls, so we deal with exactly the same things. Rosemary is not winter-hardy here. I've had it down to about 17° before I brought it in, and while it was pretty ratty looking, it survived and did just fine. It will not like being covered with mulch, as it's an evergreen--covered that long it will smother and die.

    I don't like styrofoam covers as heat and humidity build up inside them, and unless you're conscientious about venting, it can be very bad for the plants. (And I'm not that good!) Keep the ground watered around your roses and other perennials as long as you can. It's not necessarily the cold that kills things, it's the chinooks. Too may freeze/thaw cycles and stuff dries out and dies. Having adequate water in the ground really helps. As does breatheable mulch.

    You might try using the bubble wrap over the ground over the carrots, though. Covered with something opaque, and held down well to prevent the wind from blowing it away!
     
  4. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

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    my rosemary is close to the base of the house and I do nothing to it in the winter. I think the warmth from the foundation is enough to keep it going.
     
  5. Marcia in MT

    Marcia in MT Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We are in zone 3b - 4a -- temperatures can (and do!) drop into the -20 range at least once during the winter. Even mulch won't protect rosemary then! These early cold snaps won't necessarily kill it, but are still hard on the plants, expecially with winter still to come.

    Maybe it's just because of our climate, but the leaves on the rosemary that I've mulched have turned brown and limp and died when covered up for longer lengths of time. It sounds like it works better where other people live.