Due to some requests and feedback, I’m diverting a bit into gardening! You may recall from my Porch Swing Restoration post that I am an avid gardener. I enjoy tending to my plants when time allows. Through trial and error, and a whole lot of my Mom’s wisdom, I have learned a few things about plants and how to care for them in this colder climate. And in particular; winterizing plants. I live in a Zone 3 area, and while we can get a variety of plants and flowers to grow here, I’ve discovered that you need to care for and maintain them differently than you would in a warmer climate. I will be sharing some of my successes and fails for you to learn from as well.
Currently, we are heading into winter and that means its time to put my flowerbeds to sleep. Properly winterizing plants can help them have a good start come springtime. It also ensures I take the time to put away my outdoor decorations for the winter so they last longer. The cold temperatures and heavy snowfalls can fade and wear down decorations prematurely. The hard part is trying to gauge the weather to get the most out of your summer decor, and still get everything put away before winter truly hits.
I have a lot of perennials for easier maintenance. But it does mean I have a bit more work in the fall and spring. So worth it though! Typically, I wait until the frost has hit the ground before preparing my plants for winter. This way their systems are already shutting down and going into hibernation mode. Some of my plants are designed to be left alone, such as my leafy elephant ear plant. The leaves droop and darken. They act as an insulation for the root system throughout winter. Come springtime those leaves will reawaken and turn green.
With my grassy plants such as daylilies, I trim them down when the leaves turn yellow. In the springtime, new leaves will grow. I find that they grow back bushy every year by doing this. This is done with my peonies too as a way to control their growth. Or you can leave them and do a spring cleanup instead. I tend to leave my peonies for the last and if I get to them, great! If I don’t then it’s not a big concern either. I know they’ll be fine until spring.
Annual flowers get pulled out and put in the compost. They don’t grow back every year, and I like having clean ground to work with during the spring instead of having to rake up rotting plants. I take the time to smooth the soil of my flowerbeds too so they drain well in the spring melt.
I plant tulip bulbs in the fall so that they start growing with the spring melt. This can take longer, and some bulbs may not make it through the winter. I didn’t get them planted last year so I want to see how they do this winter in the ground. I have had success at my last house by letting the tulip bulbs stay in the ground over winter and awaken in the spring. The other option is to force bloom them in the spring, which I have done with my dahlia bulb before. So if I know I am going to force bloom a bulb, then I dig up those bulbs and store them inside the garden shed for the winter.
Gardening is a fun hobby for me, and I like to experiment with my yard. But they don’t always work out. For example, I had one strawberry plant that I tried to winterize last year. Strawberry plants need extra insulation to help them through the winter. Growing up, my family would cover all the strawberry plants with straw in the fall and uncover them in the spring. I was unable to get straw so I used a 5-gallon pail and made sure to keep the area covered with snow. Unfortunately, it got uncovered during the winter and exposed to the harsh climate. It didn’t survive. That’s one method for winterizing plants that I won’t attempt again!
I’ll also uproot and move plants around to new spots as they mature and fill out. I moved a daylily in the early springtime from a spot where it was getting crowded out by my lilac bush over to a new home with another flourishing daylily bush. Do your research first to make sure that you are transplanting them at ideal times of the year. I’d hate for you to needlessly kill a plant because of an ill-timed move.
Make Things Easier
A lot of the Fall winterizing is done in part to make the spring cleanup easier too. That way I can spend more time in the spring focusing on which plants need to be moved or transplanted or replaced. A lot of last summer was spent watching to see how things grow and bloom in my new yard. This year I knew what I needed to move and tackle early on in the year. Every year there is something else to take care of. By watching how my plants fair over the summer I have a better idea of what I want to do in the spring. My goal is always to make gardening easier and simpler for me which allows me more time to just enjoy the yard.
As you can tell, a lot of how I garden, and what I have learned is simply from experimenting. This style may not work for you, but I am a curious person and am happy to share my results with you! So now I need to ask you, did you find this useful? Would you like me to continue writing about gardening as well as decorating? Let me know your thoughts!