Snow & Ice Protection for Plants

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Snow and ice that continually forms, thaws and refreezes can cause cracks in the soil around a plant, exposing the roots to cold temperatures unless the gardener adds protection in the form of leaves, straw or other substances. Get the facts on snow and ice protection in this free video on winter garden care.

Part of the Video Series: Winter Garden Care
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Marci Degman, the aspiring gardener. And, we're going to talk about snow and ice protection for plants. Now, it's going to depend a lot on your climate, where you live, what plants that you're growing. But, what you have to think about is what's really going on in the soil during the winter. If you live in an area where you get a lot of snow, and it stays on the ground for prolonged periods of time, you've already got pretty good insulation for your plants, because snow is a natural insulator. But, in a lot of the areas, what we get is, we'll get ice one day, then it warms up, then it snows, then it rains, and then it's sunny. And, what happens, is the soil heaves, thaws, freezes, heaves, thaws, and plants kind of get messed up, and they are exposed to cold. And, one of the things that can happen, is that the soil will crack around the roots of the plant. So, when it's like that outside, you want to go outside in the winter, and you want to take a look around your garden. And, wherever that's happened, you want to pack that soil back down, because that's really bad for those plants to get their roots cold like that. The other thing you can do is, you can create certain types of protection for very tender plants. If you're the kind of person that has plants in your garden that are not the right zone, you want to be able to put a little bit of protection so you can bump them up a zone. You can do several different things. If it's a small enough plant, you can do that just with mulch, but with taller plants, you have to protect more of the plant surface. So, one of the things you can do, is you can take chicken wire, you can take it, put it around the trunk of a tree, and then you can fill it with leaves, straw, different things that'll protect that trunk if you have a really young tree that you want to protect from cracking in the frozen weather. Another thing you can do, is you can create a cage around a tropical plant, like a banana, and you could fill that with leaves or straw, or whatever is going to be able to handle water, you know? If you were to stuff it with newspaper and things like that, and it's out in the rain, it's going to get too soggy, and it's going to pack against that plant. So, you're going to look for things that are loose, and that just kind of dry back out. Other things you can do, you could take bamboo posts and plastic, like rolls of plastic, and you can create barriers, just like a square barrier, round barrier, whatever it takes to kind of cover the surface, so that you can keep the wind out, and you can keep the really harsh elements from getting to that plant. Now, you can't take a super tropical plant in a really cold climate, and expect it to make it. But, if you have plants that are just a little bit tender in your area, that's perfect. What you want to do is make sure that you go out in the spring, take the collars off the trees, remove the chicken wire, take away the bubble wrap, whatever it is you're using, so that once it warms up, it won't cook your plants. So, that's how you protect marginal plants for winter.

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