What are the Best Winter Gardening Tips?

Anna Harrison

For those who live in cold winter areas, the frozen ground and snow cover prohibit much being done in the winter garden, but there still is work to be done. Some tips for winter gardening include cutting back dead plant material, bringing temperature-sensitive plants inside and starting a landscape plan for the spring season. Winter gardening tips also include planting an indoor herb garden in a sunny window and getting seeds planted in indoor pots so plants are ready for outdoor transplant in the spring.

A tree in winter.
A tree in winter.

The home garden still needs work after it is hit by a killing frost and everything turns brown — all of that dead plant material needs to be cut down, raked up and removed. If left there over the winter, it can encourage pests to take up residence, and may leave some plants prone to disease. Not everything that looks dead is, so caution is in order. Some perennials and shrubs die back to the ground, but some don’t, so it is important to know the plants habits before cutting. Minor pruning can be done on those that do not die back, but major pruning jobs should be done during fall gardening or left until spring. Plants that are sensitive to extreme cold can be covered with a thick layer of mulch during winter gardening as well.

Trees in winter.
Trees in winter.

Another tip for winter gardening is to bring tender perennials inside so they can survive through the winter. They can be strategically placed together in a bright spot for a cheerful indoor winter garden. These plants typically need extra care, as they can be temperamental and often get leggy by spring. It typically is best to place them in a south-facing window with full sunlight. Indoor vegetable gardens, on the other hand, are not usually a good choice for indoor gardening in the winter. This is due in part to the fact that many vegetable plants require a certain amount of daylight in order to grow and produce vegetables.

Winter gardening also can include planting a garden indoors. A small garden, grown in a window box in a sunny window, can do much to lift the spirits. Culinary herbs are a good choice for indoor gardening and are useful as a kitchen garden as well. Winter gardening also includes repotting and fertilizing common houseplants, such as African violets and gloxinias.

To get a head start on spring, one of the best winter gardening tips may be to start plants from seed. Some slow growing varieties can be planted in indoor pots very early in winter and transplanted outdoors when the soil has warmed sufficiently. Little seedlings need a lot of care, and watching plants grow from seeds can be very satisfying. It is also a great way to teach children about how plants grow.

Work on spring landscaping plans can be a big part of winter gardening as well. Winter is a good time to decide what changes to make in the upcoming gardening season. New gardening catalogs typically arrive during this time, making it easy to shop for new plant varieties to try out.

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