When and how to cover plants for the winter?
In the pre-winter work in the garden, one of the most important points is shelter and plant protection. In preparation for winter, all plants, without exception, need. But the need for shelter applies only to those that have insufficient frost resistance and require special protection because of their species features. It is important not to overdo it in the issue of shelter: to provide additional protection only to those crops for which it is necessary, and only when the real winter begins to fetter the garden. Choosing the right time to shelter plants is just as important as the way of protection.
Approach the issue of shelter thoroughly
Shelter for the winter plants is only when it really is necessary - according to the characteristics of the species and its degree of frost resistance, resistance, bark, age, features of foliage or needles. A careful study of the characteristics and preferences of plants that are planted in the garden, and clarification of the recommended wintering parameters are a guarantee of success.
It is very good to keep lists, noting plants and new arrivals of the garden collection, which will need shelter. All plants that need to be covered are better divided into three groups:
- wintering only with air-dry shelter;
- content with full shelter with spruce branches or its alternative - hilling;
- those species that have a sufficiently high layer of mulch from peat or leaves.
Materials for sheltering plants, including for mulching and hilling, should be stocked up in advance - they should be at hand when necessary. Lapnik, dry foliage of healthy plants, sawdust, peat, compost, humus, non-woven materials, burlap, reed mats, wooden boxes and caps, staples for securing plants, arches and frames should be prepared by mid-autumn.
Even after the completion of the main shelter, it is worth leaving some of the materials for additional measures in the winter, especially the stock of spruce branches, which will help out and help to update, repair or strengthen the protection.
Plants that need to be covered
If the design of the garden is followed by the rule of selecting species in accordance with climatic conditions, most of the plants in it are winter hardy enough to tolerate even the most unstable winters. Grown by local nurseries, adapted to the climate, thoughtfully selected plants differ from “foreigners” precisely in their adaptability to local winters. But even if such plants dominate, in any garden there is something to hide.
First of all, exotics need to protect, flowering shrubs on last year's shoots and capricious accent plants - the pride of the collections and the main decoration of flower beds. But not only roses, clematis, lilies, rhododendrons, phloxes, chrysanthemums, lavender, wisteria, hibiscus and hydrangea will have to be covered.
In addition to crops that need shelter from frost (both for roots and shoots), there are three more categories of plants that are worth protecting for the winter:
- plants prone to frostbites, damage to trunks and skeletal shoots;
- plants attracting hares and rodents or vulnerable to them due to unformed bark;
- crops prone to sunburn are coniferous and evergreen species, the leaves of which can be damaged by direct sun in winter and especially in spring (primarily variegated varieties, spruce and thuja).
Plants that need a mandatory winter shelter include:
- all young seedlings and immature plants, especially shrubs and trees planted in autumn (both decorative and fruit),
- perennials and ornamental shrubs whose winter hardiness is unknown, not indicated or doubtful.
Dates of plant shelter for the winter
With the advent of autumn and the beginning of winter harvesting, the most difficult period of doubt also begins - after all, an exact recipe or “testimony” for starting to wrap up plants for the winter simply does not exist. Every year, every fall is special. It is necessary to focus not only on the state of plants and their preferences, current air temperatures, but also weather forecasts, which do not become more precise with time.
Early shelter is even more dangerous than the lack of protection at all. This statement as the main warning is found in any instructions and manuals on gardening. And almost as often ignored. But in a simple rule - to provide shelter when the weather is established, from which the plants are protected - the main secret of successfully determining the time for wrapping garden shrubs, trees and perennials is contained.
The beginning of the season for sheltering garden plants always occurs in the middle of autumn, but usually in October it is only about the initial stages of preparation: mulching and hilling, tying crowns for all plants that will have to be covered more thoroughly for the winter.
It is not recommended to create a shelter immediately for any plant: for each species, the shelter is divided into stages and work is carried out on each of them with an interval of a week or at least 3-4 days for normal adaptation.
A typical example is roses, whose shelters are often stretched for more than a month. The preliminary stages of protection are stretched so that by the time it is necessary to directly build the final shelter, the plants were earthed up, peeled, tied, bent and fixed, around them a frame was created for tightening and materials were prepared for wrapping.
To cover plants that need full protection for the winter, it is necessary when, within 2 to 3 days, the temperature does not rise above -5 degrees, that is, with the advent of a real winter and the beginning of easy freezing of the soil.
The first few days after the start of a full-fledged frosty period will contribute to the hardening of plants and will allow you to create optimal conditions under a protective shelter, without the risk of aging when the insulation is too early.
If the weather is not abnormal, then the middle of November is the traditional time for the final shelter of young and capricious plants. Frosts up to -15 degrees are considered “deadlines” for shelter. If warming occurs after completion of the shelter, it is necessary to provide ventilation and air access, postponing full wrapping until the negative temperatures stabilize.
Plants can be protected from sunburn later - until the middle of winter, when daylight hours begin to grow again, and the activity of the sun increases. But young conifers are also better to shelter from the sun early in November or at least in December.
Shelter does not replace winter preparations
Preparing vulnerable garden plant species for a long and most likely unstable winter is a systemic process, including not only a direct shelter. After all, improper care and violation of the schedule of autumn procedures can destroy even plants under the right air-dry shelter.
Among the measures that play a critical role in the effectiveness of sheltering horticultural crops include:
- cessation of fertilizing before the end of August and meeting the deadlines for autumn fertilizing for the lawn and plants that need them;
- timely conduct of water-charging irrigation for shrubs and trees;
- compliance with the terms of autumn pruning;
- thorough sanitary cleaning of plants, including the removal of dry leaves, plant debris from the soil and cleaning curtains;
- timely hilling and mulching, especially for perennials prone to bare roots;
- maintaining water and air permeability of the soil;
- binding of crowns and curtains to protect against breaking branches from snow;
- removal of vines from supports;
- preventive measures to combat diseases and pests.
With the onset of snowfall, already taken measures to protect plants should definitely add the distribution, adding and trampling of snow. And to continue protection from rodents, which lure heat under the shelter for plants.