General Discussion:

winter covering for perennials

Messages posted to thread:

Lori08-Nov-04 03:55 AM EST 5   
Patricia 09-Nov-04 05:19 PM EST 5   
Nancy10-Nov-04 02:25 PM EST 5   

Subject: winter covering for perennials
From: Lori
Zone: 5
Date: 08-Nov-04 03:55 AM EST

Hello everyone:

I have planted a bed of perennials this fall, and was wondering if I should cover them for the winter. I was planning on using a cedar mulch to cover the whole bed. Would that be a good idea, or should I just leave it as is and let the snow cover the bed and be used as a blanket? Thanks for the help.

Subject: RE: winter covering for perennials
From: Patricia (
Zone: 5
Date: 09-Nov-04 05:19 PM EST

Hi! Lori - I am in zone 5 just outside Ottawa. Where are you? Protecting a fall planted bed of perennials - it depends on many things. How hardy are the plants you put in this bed? Are they hardy to zone 5, 4, 3, 2 or 1? The hardier the plant, the less you need to protect it. Also, how much wind and snow will you get? If you get deep, even snow where you are, then your bed and plants are protected, especially if you don't get any thaws this winter. But if you get lots of freezing and thawing, and/or wind which blows away the snow cover, then you need mulch and lots of it. My first winter here, our perennial bed was so exposed that the wind blew all the snow off - So I drove around the neighbourhood after Christmas and dragged home all the Christmas trees put out for garbage pickup. I laid them on top of my flower bed and this saved most of my early September transplants. So you see, Lori, the answer is: "It depends". Check the weather and the wind. Remember: thaws are bad!

Subject: RE: winter covering for perennials
From: Nancy
Zone: 5
Date: 10-Nov-04 02:25 PM EST

I tend to agree with Patricia's comments.

The last few years I've been buying plenty of perennials on the end of season sales (about now), and not knowing where I was going to put them, simply planted them in rows in a part of my vegetable garden that had been cleaned up. That part of the garden is quite open, gets little snow accumulation and being full sun, is subject to repeated freeze and thaw until spring. So to protect for that first winter, I tossed on about 12 inches of straw on top. Most of the plants made it OK, but a couple of the most tender (zone 6) didn't. Mind you, they went in not long before the ground froze, so had no time to send out roots. And I didn't want to encourage mice and voles to camp out under the straw, so held off on mulching until the ground was good and hard.

My bottom line, I don't buy marginally hardy plants in late fall anymore, 'cause even with a good layer of mulch I think they still need some time to get established.

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