How do you protect your plants from the cold and help them get through the winter?

Frost, wind and cold are the main enemies of plants in winter, and so many dangers that threaten their growth and proper development. How to protect them effectively and successfully overwinter? Here is everything you need to know to take care of plants during the winter season, from indoor plants to the vegetable patch.

  How to protect your plants from the cold and help them get through the'hiver ?

Which plants are affected? During the cold season , the development of deciduous plants stops, they go into a kind of hibernation. But this is not the case of persistent . The latter are therefore exposed to the bad weather of the winter months, some of which, such as frost, can be fatal to them. It is therefore necessary to effectively protect the shrubs with evergreen foliage but also young plantations, i.e. up to around one year. The potted plants are also very exposed because their roots are less protected than in the ground.

Why do you need to protect your plants come winter?

Cold first, snow and frost too. In effect, the drop in temperature will hamper the good development of the plants , which, since their sap descended in late autumn, have been dormant, a slowed-down state of life. Also, with diseases reaching a peak in late summer, if the plants go to sleep unwell, they will not be able to fight infection during this very harsh period and will come out of winter, if successful, in a sorry state. It is therefore essential to take care of them and protect them so that they can bloom again in the spring. And so on next winter.

When should you protect your plants?

When winter is approaching, you are afraid that the plants in the garden will be damaged by the cold. However, it is necessary to wait for the first frosts so that the plants prepare for sometimes negative temperatures and enter dormancy. Thus, trees, shrubs and roses need to be exposed to temperatures between 0°C and -10°C for a few days: cold and frost are indeed important for lignification (plant cells turn into wood ) and limit the appearance of harmful insects.

The ideal is therefore to put in place the protections as late as possible in the season (mid-November) and remove them as soon as the temperatures rise a little. When to find them? Similarly, you should not wait until it is too hot to remove the protections. When the ground first thaws (March or April depending on the climate), you can discover them, unless the temperatures are too unstable between day and night. In fact, protection maintained for too long risks promoting the rotting of the plant.

Note that you can give the plants a little boost from the end of summer, thanks to a dose of fertilizer and by covering them with a winter veil, for example, which will last until the end of February.

Last tip: never leave the plants unattended or cared for during the winter period . It's not because they are shelter under their winter veil that they must be abandoned.

Tree trunk protected by a reed

What are the different methods of plant protection?


It is a technique consisting in applying a layer of protective material in order to mitigate the effects of too harsh a climate on the soil of the plantation. This process ensures that the heat is maintained in the ground during the most delicate periods. Mulch is particularly recommended to protect the roots of trees and shrubs in the event of frost. The roots that remain protected will give new shoots in the spring. In addition to straw, other materials, natural or synthetic, are used today. On the organic side, wood chips, straw, hay and cardboard will do. the mulching is carried out at the beginning of the growing season, and the operation can be repeated if necessary. It must be aired regularly to avoid any risk of rotting.

Mulching at the foot of plants


the buttage , for more experienced gardeners, consists of bringing soil to the base of the plants, does not have the real purpose of helping the plants to fight against the cold. But by contributing to the strengthening of the roots, it can promote their growth. It is particularly recommended in the case of certain plants of the vegetable garden , such as potatoes. This is a technique that finally suits roses. Hilling is also used in viticulture. The earth is then brought back in a clod at the foot of the vine stock.

The plastic sheets

Plastic sheets are ideal for the most fragile plants. Choose them in white color, because colored or transparent plastic causes a temperature fluctuation that your plants will not appreciate. For greener gardening, do not hesitate to favor dried dead leaves. They are perfect for lively , plants that you have in your garden for several years (agapanthus, daisies, lupins, bellflowers...). They bloom again every year and fall asleep during the winter. Many of them are fragile and must be protected from the cold. The layer of leaves should be about 5 cm thick. Do not forget to put a weight on it so that everything does not fly away at the slightest gust of wind.


You don't have any special equipment? No problem, know that newspaper will also work for pots and planters.

The winter veil

The non-woven winter veil is more suitable for trees and shrubs, and should be placed on the branches. Capable of protecting plants from frost, it comes in three formats: a large sheet, to be cut to the size of the plant, a cover, similar to a sock, to slip over the plant, and a zip, which such a tent, covers the entire plant with a handy zipper. Made of cotton, it is important to pay attention to its weight, the ideal being 20 to 30 g/m 2 . Example: for a Mediterranean plant which would spend the winter in Lille, it would be necessary to opt for a wintering veil of 60g/m 2 to be sure that it resists well.

Polypropylene winter cover

the jute

Jute is also suitable for the branches of young trees and certain shrubs that are more fragile than others, particularly those accustomed to a mild climate, such as oleander and fuchsias. Cover their trunk with burlap. If the winter is particularly cold, put straw between the canvas and the trunk.


Greenhouses, whether made of glass or polycarbonate, also help keep plants sheltered from the cold and are now available in small sizes, capable of adapting to balconies townspeople.

mini greenhouse

polystyrene plates

the plaques of polystyrene , winter covers, as well as the fine mesh fence can also be used to protect your plants.

heating cables

There are also heating cables , wrap around the plant to keep it warm.

How to protect a rose bush in winter?

While roses are known to be cold hardy, some varieties are stronger than others (shrub roses do not need any special protection). As for the rest of the plants in the garden, do not protect too early, the roses could rot and it is important that they get used to inclement temperatures in order to harden off. Several solutions exist to protect a rosebush from the cold.

  • First of all, it is possible to make a buttage , creating a clod around the plant 15-20 cm high; to do this, be sure to use fairly fine and light soil, and that the grafting bridge is well covered.
  • Ideally or as a replacement, you can make a mulch : dead leaves will do just fine : this method insulates and keeps the roots warm.
  • Finally, there are rose cones which make it possible to avoid the setbacks of alternating freezing and thawing of the earth.

What about exotic plants in winter?

L' hygrometry is particularly essential for tropical plants, which can suffer from excessive heating and need humidity to remain in bloom. The ideal is to place them in a winter Garden or veranda , which will protect them from frost: this place will delight citrus fruits, solanums, dipladenias, bougainvilleas and hibiscus. In fact, all the exotic or Mediterranean plants that cannot stand winters that are a little too harsh.

For bonsai, which can be very sensitive to temperature variations, they must also be brought inside the house or on the veranda.

Finally, for the more daring of exotic potted plants, place them near the walls of the house, so that they are still sheltered. If the temperatures are really harsh, bring them inside.

What about bulb plants in winter?

Bulbs and tubers that cannot withstand winter must be uprooted and brought indoors. Of these, dahlias, begonias and gladioli, once wilted, are particularly sensitive to falling temperatures. Carefully extract the plant with a spade, remove the head and remove the moisture. Cut the stem, then place the bulbs in crates.

For the light , it will finally be necessary to be very vigilant as to the rotting of the shoots.

For the cyclamens , the operation is more delicate. Freshness, regular watering and fertilizer, a few hours outdoors if it is not freezing.

The more rustic ones, like the crocuses, hyacinths and tulips , can stay outside; do not hesitate to cover them if necessary.

How to shelter the vegetable garden in winter?

In the vegetable garden, it's time for sowing and harvesting. For those who do not have a greenhouse, plastic tunnels are very effective in protecting strawberries, but also tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and cucumbers.

What precaution for the lawn and turf in winter?

If the lawn or turf does not need protection, particularly in winter, its maintenance will still have to be taken into account. Do not mow the lawn during the cold period, do not walk on a frozen lawn and in case of snow, leave your coat on for better protection.

How to protect potted plants and window boxes on the balcony?

On the balcony or terrace, potted plants are naturally more chilly than their counterparts in the ground, the walls of the pot protecting less than a square of ground; if you have a choice when repotting, always prefer the terracotta , more insulating than plastic and having the ability to be more porous.

If they stay on the balcony, be sure to leave them somewhere luminous and if possible insulate the pots from the coolness of hard ground, such as concrete, by setting them on palettes wood or polystyrene. Ideally, and even if this solution is not the most aesthetic, be sure to cover your flower pots and planters with a tarpaulin or a sail wintering. You can also to assemble the pots and surround the whole with a canisse, in order to avoid the loss of energy. Finally, from paper journal or polystyrene will protect your planters. If temperatures drop very low, frame each pot with polystyrene boards. On the terrace and on the balconies, mulching is also recommended: you can thus surround flower pots with paillon , a natural material similar to the blackout reeds covering the balconies and allowing to limit the vis-à-vis.

How to take care of indoor plants in winter?

Indoors, green plants are confronted in winter with a lack of light which can be fatal to them. So be sure to bring plants closer to windows, especially those that need it the most, to ensure optimal photosynthesis. The yellowing of the leaves can be due to a lack of light, not necessarily water.

Identically, the heat can be harmful, except for succulents or cacti, so do not turn up the heat excessively, 18°C ​​is an ideal temperature.

At last, watering must be limited to once a week, or even twice a month depending on the species, in any case an excess of water can quickly promote the rotting of the plant. It is however necessary to maintain a certain level of humidity : the easiest way is to use the fogger for your plants during this critical period.

What are garden pests and diseases in winter?

When temperatures drop, plants go dormant. Some pests are particularly fearsome when in their overwintering form. The mites thus threaten the conifers and certain trees in the orchard. Mealybugs, psyllids, which attack fruit trees in particular, defoliating caterpillars and aphids should draw your attention.

The threat of rodents weighs on your plants, these animals being fond of the bark of young trees.

In any case, do not use chemical insecticides. Many natural tricks allow you to overcome so-called harmful animals.