How to help outdoor plants survive and thrive this winter

Winter is coming, and it’s time to protect, prune and help the plants you love to survive the harsh conditions the season will bring. Here in Central California and the Visalia area, we’re due for some rain, cold temperatures and even frost over the next few months. If you’re not sure what to do, we’ve got you covered. We’ve gathered up a few tips and ideas here for home gardeners and green thumbs who love their plants and are ready to protect them for winter, and prepare for a glorious new year.

Winterizing Citrus Trees, Avocados, Bougainvillea and Succulents

Whether in pots or in the ground, citrus and avocado trees need protection from frost. For young trees, small trees, or ones in pots, they will need to be covered when the weather forecast calls for frost. Large established trees are usually fine. Insulating coverings can be found at any home and garden store, often sold in large rolls that can be cut to fit and wrap around trees to protect from frost damage. But in a pinch, inverting garbage cans, large buckets, burlap, or garbage bags can also do the trick too.

Temperatures can go up and down like a rollercoaster during winter in Central California, though, so be sure to uncover your trees during the day when temperatures climb so they get plenty of air and sunlight, covering them only when temperatures dip in the evenings and frost is a concern. And don’t forget to water them as needed.

Bougainvillea is another plant that does really well in our region, but is also susceptible to frost damage. Be sure to cover it as well, just like the trees, if you have young plants or small bushes. And if anyone is a succulent fan, (who isn’t?!), be sure to move them indoor or under covers for protection too.

Here’s a fun and pretty way to protect plants you might not have thought about – use holiday lights. When you wrap trees or bushes with holiday lights, they provide just enough warmth to keep frost off the leaves and from damaging the plant.

Winterizing Roses

Roses are popular throughout California and with our temperate weather they are able to continue to flower throughout the winter. Even though it’s tempting to let them bloom, the best winter care for roses to keep them healthy and strong is an annual pruning. December is the best time to prune back, but if you want to let them bloom to impress holiday guests, you can put it off until early January.

When you’re ready to prune, remove all leaves and canes, leaving at least 2-3 feet of growth all around. You’ll want to maintain evenly spaced canes (the stems) in a loose circle around the base and cut out any that are growing inward to allow sun and air to penetrate throughout the rose and promote future growth in the spring. Finally, always remove suckers (small stems) that sprout from the bud union (the base of the rose bush).

KristyHow to help outdoor plants survive and thrive this winter

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