Cold weather doesn’t have to mean the end of gardening.
Here are some tips for winter gardening that’ll keep you busy until spring.
When the average person thinks of gardening, they likely think of spring blossoms and lazy summer days. What if we told you that you can also harvest an abundance of nutritious produce (and even colorful foliage) throughout fall and winter, too?
Winter gardening takes a bit of planning, and a bit of work, but read on and you’ll discover some tips and tricks to a bountiful cold weather garden in no time!
What Grows in the Winter?
If you live in a place like Florida or Hawaii, you may have been winter gardening for some time. But even cold areas can find plenty of plants to keep them busy when it starts to snow.
Cold Weather Ornamentals
If you love seeing color in your yard year-round (rather than stark white snow and bare branches), here are some varieties that bloom during the fall and winter months.
- Chinese Lantern (Zones 3-9)
- Cotoneaster (Zones 4-7)
- Mums (Zones 3-9)
- Snowberry (Zones 2-7)
- Russian Sage (Zones 4-9)
- Sweet Autumn Clematis (Zones 4-9)
- Winterberry Holly (Zone 3-9)
- Poinsettia (Zone 9-11)
- Hemlock (Zones 4-8)
- Wintercreeper (Zones 5-8)
- Thanksgiving & Christmas Cactus (Zones 10-11)
- Yuletide Camellia (Zones 7-10)
- Juniper (Zones 3-9)
- Boxwood (Zones 4-9)
- Yew (Zones 4-7)
- Fir (Zones 5-7)
- Spruce (Zones 2-8)
Cold Weather Crops
It takes a bit of planning, but if you harvest at the right time, you can harvest delicious vegetables in the winter. Choose varieties appropriate to your zone.
- Brussels Sprouts
- Fava Beans
Now that you’re ready to get started, let’s go over some tips to help you get the most out of your cold weather garden.
1. Know Your Zone
We cannot stress this enough.
Knowing what gardening zone you’re in is vital to the success of any crops. So do your research! You cannot be successful in your harvest if you’re trying to grow plants that thrive in frosty temps when you’re in zone 8 or 9.
Look up your zip code on a plant hardiness map so you’ll be armed with knowledge of what will work in your garden (and what will fail).
2. Buy Local
When you buy local plants, you know that they’ve adapted to survive in your climate. They have withstood similar diseases, pests, rainfall, and temperatures.
One of our customers once once lost a papaya tree to a rare Florida frost. Luckily, she had one papaya left. She dried the seeds and experimented by re-planting the seeds in various areas of her yard. Only one seedling grew in the new site, but four seedlings sprouted at the original location. Obviously, her papaya tree was thriving in that particular area of the yard!
Do some research on gardeners and local nurseries in your area to find the best plants. As a bonus, usually an arborist can answer some questions you may have about your winter garden.
3. Plan Ahead
Any garden takes planning, but this is especially true of winter gardening. You will have to research your area in order to curate a harvest and avoid deadly frosts.
Some vegetables have to be planted 6-8 weeks before a frost. This is because by then, they’ll be a well-established plant and won’t be as susceptible to those harsh temperatures as a young plant would be. Look up average frost dates in your area to get an idea of when you should sow.
Don’t want to deal with frost or freezing temperatures? Plant a fall garden instead. There are plenty of varieties that you can plant at the end of summer and harvest by fall. Green variety veggies such as kale, spinach, and arugula have short grow times (a few weeks!) and are able to withstand very cold weather.
4. Protect With Mulch and Compost
These fillers act as insulation for your plants during those cold winter days. Compost creates heat as it decomposes. This warms the roots and your plant so that they can ward off the chill. Mulch helps to trap the heat and also soaks up moisture to distribute to plants that otherwise may succumb to the dry climate of winter.
If you have any plants that are vulnerable to root rot, a raised garden bed with a base of rocks/pebbles will help provide drainage.
5. Keep Out the Cold
A greenhouse is always a good method to have more control over temperatures and climates for your plants. However, a lot of people don’t have the money or space to have one built. Luckily, there are other ways to protect your plants from the cold.
Mini cold frames are relatively easy to find (or build) Cold frames function the same way a greenhouse does. By trapping sunlight and preventing moisture from evaporating, your plants can thrive even in a less-than-ideal environment.
In fact, cold frames work so well that they can sometimes create too much heat. Vent it periodically or reserve it for those extra-cold nights.
Fortunately, living in an area with frequent frosts and snowfalls doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to a winter of brown and white. With a bit of planning, knowledge, and guidance, anyone can have a beautiful garden all year long.
And if all else fails, you can always bring those frost-sensitive plants inside! With Arcadia’s wide selection of planters, you’re sure to find something to fit into any style, space, or budget. And when the weather warms up, we’ve got a stunning selection of garden accessories and decor to brighten things up!