The Ultimate Guide to Winter Gardening

Winter Gardening - Everything You Need to Know About
Winter is just around the corner and there are a lot of tasks at hand. You have to store away your lighter clothes, to finally write down a Christmas shopping list, and your car is waiting for you to change it’s tires. But aren’t you forgetting something? Look through your back window. Yup, your garden.

Gardening in the winter can sound like quite the unpleasant experience. Yes, the weather becomes unwelcoming and unpredictable and the day – shorter, but that doesn’t have to stop you from giving your green space some love.

For your convenience, we’ve prepared a complete guide with all the necessary information about the winter gardening activities you can take part in this season. From the proper way to water your plants to how to get herbs to grow in the winter. We got everything covered, no need to bury yourself in winter gardening books!

Table of Contents:

The Top Most Important Winter Gardening Jobs

The following cold-weather gardening tips will protect your green space from the elements between November and January:

With high winds on their way, check your garden for potential damage prone structures

This tip is essential when gardening in the winter. Inspect all structures in your green space. Make sure that your shed and fence are stable and if not – fix them right away! High winds and snow have the tendency to cause serious, and at times, irreversible, damage.

Cut, refresh, tidy, and mulch your borders

Leave your herbaceous borders in a good condition before the cold hits. Cut, refresh, and tidy the plants. After you’re done with that, tuck them under a deep mulch.

Make sure to prune and mulch your trees and shrubs

Pruning in the winter is vital for most deciduous plants, as many of them tend to go dormant in the cold. Prune trees and shrubs on a mild, dry day. Get rid of any dead or sick branches first. Then continue with the ones that are too big or small so light and air can get freely protrude the tree’s crowns. Your main goal is to maintain the overall structure of the plants and to promote their growth for the following spring months. Save your flora from brief warm spells by mulching it with straw, pine needles, or shredded leaves.

Remember to protect your plants

To ensure that your winter salads survive the cold months, protect them with coaches and wrap the pots of any half-hardy species with some bubble wrap. Gather all your more capricious plants and store them in a greenhouse.

Plant the bulbs

To get your garden looking well-maintained and colourful right after January has passed, plant some bulbs in the ground in November. You can get creative with it by choosing a good variety of plant clumps for a cool rainbow effect.

Lend wildlife a helping hand

This winter gardening job is the perfect family activity! You can involve your kids into perseverance of the nature and prep together a festive meal of nuts, seeds, as well as fresh water for birds. Or why not gather up some fallen leaves into piles so Mr. & Mrs. Hedgehog can have some house building materials!

Give your plants a boost with some compost

A vital part of winter gardening is to add compost to your plant beds so they can stay nice and healthy for next year. If you happen to have “no dig” raised beds, spread it on top and if that is not the case – just fork it in.

Take care of your greenhouse

If you have the pleasure to own a greenhouse, now is the perfect time to tidy it up, especially if you plan any winter gardening. It is extremely important to wipe down the glass windows. You have to make sure that all sunlight has a chance to reach your beloved plants. Remember to clean your pots and trays, as well.

Get your hands on some seeds

You may be wondering “Why the hell should I order plant seeds in December?”. Think of it as a fun winter gardening activity, minus the cold temperatures! You get to plan ahead how your garden will look and figure out what types of delicious fruit and veggies you want to grow.

If you decide to stock up on seeds from catalogs, you get the chance to explore more interesting options that aren’t available in larger commercial garden shops.

Take care of your winter gardening tools

Every self-respecting gardener knows that he has to keep his tools in a proper state. So, get your secateurs sharpened, take the time to fasten loose spade handles, and wash those grass stains from your gardening gloves. Your tools always need to be properly sharpened, because it’s better for the health of your plants. For example, if you do a cut with blunt pruning scissors, you risk your trees to get a disease, which can result in decay.

Get your Christmas tree inside the house

A live Christmas tree always helps bring the holiday mood in your home. If you decide to keep one inside your house remember to bring in the tree a few days before it’s time to decorate it. Confires feel most happy in colder conditions and dread the warm, so make sure to keep it away from any heat sources and give it plenty of water.

Store away your veggie crops

You can store away for a longer period of time harvested crops like carrots, cabbage, potatoes, apples, pears, pumpkins, beans, onions, and garlic. Root vegetables have a longer life-span. Before you put them away, individually examine every single fruit and veggie. It is necessary to sort the good from the bad ones. For example, if you find an apple that is on the way to rot, you risk contaminating the rest of the harvest.

Prune fruit trees that go dormant

If you have any fruit trees, now is the time to prune them. Get rid of any dead, sick or damaged wood. If you spot any crossing or rubbing branches, make sure to cut off the weaker ones. Before you start playing Edward Scissorhands, put on some gloves and buy yourself some sharp tools. Take note to cut the branches at a downwards angle, so the rain can freely run off them. This way you prevent rotting.

Plan your year ahead – you can get a quote for landscaping

As you can see, winter gardening can be quite the tedious task, so why not leave it to the professionals? We here at Fantastic Services offer garden design and landscaping services which can save you a lot of time and back pains! It doesn’t matter if your project is big or small! From the creation of whole garden planting schemes featuring variable plants and colours depending on the season to just planting a few trees – we can do it all!

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The types of Plants you can Grow during the winter

Below you’ll find listed all of the flowers, herbs, and vegetables that do amazingly well during the wintertime.

Winter flowers for the outdoors

From the romantic Forget-me-nots to the funny looking Witch hazel, here is the complete list of winter flowering plants perfect for the outdoors:

  • English Primrose
  • Cyclamen
  • Winter Jasmine
  • Camellia
  • Dogwood
  • Mahonia
  • Helleborus
  • Pansies
  • Forget-me-nots
  • Honeywort
  • Snowdrops
  • Violas
  • Winter honeysuckle
  • Sweetbox
  • Skimmia japonica
  • English daisy
  • Holly
  • Witch hazel
  • Heavenly bamboo
  • Wintersweet
  • Mahonia
  • Viburnum
  • Winter heath
  • Sweet alyssum
  • Kaffir Lily
  • Chiodoxa
  • Scarlet willow

What herbs can I grow during the winter?

There is no need for store-bought spices to spruce up your kitchen endeavors when you can have these herbs to grow in the winter:

  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Parsley
  • Oregano
  • Mint
  • Tarragon
  • Basil

A list of winter flowering plants for hanging baskets

If you favor hanging baskets because of garden space limitations and want to have them even during the winter, check this list of plants that strive in the cold:

  • English Primrose
  • Wallflower
  • Sweet William
  • Stock
  • Polyanthus
  • Pansy
  • Viola
  • Winter aconite
  • Snapdragon
  • Crocus
  • Iris
  • Hellebores
  • Cyclamen
  • Candytuft
  • Nemesia
  • Heather
  • Calendula
  • Cineraria

Enjoy these tasty vegetables in the winter months

Like to grow your own vegetables? Here are some tasty plants that are ideal for winter gardening in cold frames:

  • Onions and shallots
  • Garlic
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Leek
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Chard
  • Rocket
  • Broad beans
  • Thyme

Winter Gardening Tips on How To Protect Potted Plants in Winter

You know the saying “Gentle like a flower”, right? In the case of winter gardening, you have to take it literally. Many plants that serve to decorate your green space are too tender to do that good in snow or under frost. If you want to save their lives from the kiss of winter, you have to protect them in advance. Here are the measures that you need to take:

  • Take the time to erect a wind barrier. Gardens that are exposed to strong wind can receive a lot of damage. Install a barrier to reduce wind speed and to shelter your defenseless English daisies.
  • Roll up your sleeves and spread a good amount of mulch around the base of your plants. This will stop the soil from freezing, thus reducing the chance of dehydration to a minimum.
  • Cover potted plants with a cold frame. This is for those of you who can’t bring their whole garden indoors. Invest in a cold frame so you can keep a close eye on the temperature, sunlight, moisture, and wind exposure.
  • Bring your flowers inside. We advise you to move the more delicate plant species in your home to keep them warm. Some type of flowers won’t benefit from other winter gardening methods like mulching and cold frames.
  • Check for drainage problems. Make sure that all of your potted plants have proper drainage so the soil doesn’t sit wet.
  • Use bubble wrap. This solution is budget-friendly and has many applications when it comes to preserving your plants during the winter. One of the best ways to put in use is by insulating your greenhouse with it or to wrap it around your flower pots.

How to use cold frames for gardening in winter

Think of cold frames as protective domes for your plants. They are a good winter gardening solution if you want to enjoy fresh homegrown fruits and vegetables during the colder months. If you are a passionate DIYer you can construct one yourself. Of course, you can always spare yourself the troubles and buy one from your local gardening store. In this part of the article we’ll discuss the correct way to set it up, how to actually do winter gardening in cold frames, and of course – the advantages and disadvantages of installing one in your green space.

How to set up a cold frame

First of all, location is very important. Set the cold frame with a clear southern exposure so the plants can get more sunlight. The actual assembly is a pretty easy task. Just secure the wood panels together and attach the lid. That’s all, you are done!

The way to use a cold frame in the winter gardening

If you have tender or tropical plants that don’t do well in the cold, you can keep them safe inside the cold frame. The only thing you have to do is check them every once in a while to maintain a healthy dormancy. Keep the soil moist, not wet, but well-drained. If a sunny period occurs, make sure to put a plastic cover over the lid to dilute the light, so the plants don’t get the wrong idea and start growing like crazy.

The pluses and minuses

Winter gardening in cold frames is a great option for people that don’t have space or the budget for a full-size greenhouse. They are fairly easy to assemble, cheap, and you can move them around your garden space to grow a particular type of crop.

However, cold frames can protect your more delicate plants only to some extent. They don’t possess any kind of insulation, which means they aren’t that good in retaining heat. If you want some extra help, you can always encase them is some bubble wrap. It won’t solve the problem completely, and to be honest, it isn’t very aesthetically pleasing, but it will keep your flower friends a bit warmer.

As you can see yourself gardening in the winter is quite the adventure. We know that all of these rules can sound a bit overwhelming, but at the end of the day a healthy and good looking garden is definitely worth it. We hope you found our winter gardening tips helpful and remember – a green space treated with tender loving care is a happy one!

Header image source: Shutterstock / limpido

Posted in Garden Advice

Last update: November 8, 2018
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