Archive for November, 2009

How to Winterize Perennials

Posted on November 1st, 2009 by Tonia 2 Comments

In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.”

-William Blake

The rain in Duluth has finally waned, making it possible to accomplish the winterizing tasks around the house that need doing.  I have been waiting patiently for the soggy leaves in our yard to dry out so they can be raked and spread over the garden and our perennials.

Since Mike and I are complete and utter gardening novices, I had to call upon the powers of Google to figure out the best methods for winterizing different plant varieties.  It seems the experts agree:  most plants will come back year after year, even in the hands of an inexperienced gardener, simply because they would rather live than die.  However, I spent $50 on my Hydrangea plants, so I’d like to follow through on doing whatever I can to guarantee they’ll pop right up next spring.

A couple helpful things I learned:

Itty Bird iconLeaves are great insulation for plants, and they decompose quickly so there shouldn’t be too much clean-up come spring.

Itty Bird iconOnly cut back the flowers that are already dormant. Different plant varieties respond differently to frost, so some of your flowers may already be dormant after the first hard frost, while others will survive three or four frosts.

Itty Bird iconIf you insulate your plants too early, you run the risk of tricking the plants into thinking it’s spring, and they will begin to grow again. This second-growth is bad for plants.  If you’re like me and you live in a part of the country where winter comes early and stays late, you shouldn’t have too much trouble with this.  This year we had our first hard frost in late Sept. and the temps have stayed nice and low ever since then.

And here comes the fun part- With the peace of mind that comes after an honest research session, I set forth to prepare my precious flower bed:

raking leaves

preparing the plants

laying the burlap

Apparently it is common to use plastic bags to line flower beds, but I didn’t like that idea {not only because it is not biodegradable, but also because plastic can suffocate plants.}

Burlap is inexpensive and easy to work with, so I chose to use it instead of plastic.  This would be a great way to reuse old burlap sacs you may have laying around.  I didn’t have any sacs, so I bought a roll of burlap from a garden supply store.

I laid a single layer of the burlap loosely across the entire bed.  The raked leaves get piled on top of that, nice and fluffy.  I tucked extra around the Hydrangeas.


the finishing touch

A second layer of burlap, some rocks and wood to hold it all down, and I’m done!  I sure hope I have some beautiful flowers next spring to show for it!

{Depending on the climate you live in, methods will vary.  Please share your tips and ideas with us by leaving a comment.}