How to - Techniques

Protect your plants over the winter

From tender perennials to delicate shrubs, keep all your plants safe until spring


As you cross essential autumn to-dos off your list, be sure to remember your delicate plants. Some may need to spend the winter in warmer climes, as in your house, while others will need a little TLC outside to ensure they're ready to survive winter's unpredictable temperatures. Check out these helpful tips.

protect-plants-how-to2.jpgHow to overwinter your plants
As temperatures dip in autumn and the threat of frost hovers, most plants take the opportunity to rest from the hard work they’ve put into creating blossoms and fruit. “All plants need a breather after seed is produced and before active growth,” says Michelle Reid, the horticulture foreperson for Toronto Parks, Recreation & Forestry. “In northern climates like ours, this dormant period coincides with winter.” But while hardy shrubs and perennials can withstand the cold under their blanket of snow, our shivering fragile specimens need extra protection to survive. From aquatics to herbs to tropicals, learn what you need to do to protect your plants.

protect-plants-tender-perennials.jpgBring tender perennials indoors
Because tender perennials can't survive harsh Canadian winters unassisted, many people treat them like annuals, buying new plants year after year. But with a little care and the right conditions, you can overwinter tender perennials for years, saving money and earning a sense of horticultural pride. Find out how to protect bulbs, corms, tubers and herbs.

protect-plants-succulents.jpgOverwintering succulents
As the gardening season comes to an end, Paul Zammit, director of horticulture at the Toronto Botanical Gardens, plants his hardy succulents in the garden. While he usually takes cuttings from most of his tender varieties to overwinter indoors in a bright windowsill or under grow lights, he has a special trick for growing new echeveria. See step-by-step photos illustrating what to do.

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