How to Winterize Perennials

Perennials will often survive the winter on their own. Why winterize perennials? Winterize perennial plants and bulbs for optimum plant health in the warmer months. Your perennials will thank you with beautiful flowers, greenery and produce in the spring. Keep perennials healthy and strong for spring regrowth by caring for them through the winter months.

Trees and Shrubbery

We may not think of trees and shrubbery as perennials in the conventional sense. Still, they are a constant from year to year. Trees and shrubbery need to be winterized, even though protection from the cold is not required. Winterize these perennials by trimming them up and removing all dead growth. Be sure to water them in winter, especially in years with little snow.


Winterize these perennials in late fall. Trim all usable herbs from the plants. Remove dead growth. Separate overgrown plants and give away or plant excess. Bring non winter hardy plants indoors.

Water indoor and outdoor herbs thoroughly. Cover outdoor herbs with mulch or straw for cold protection. Water several times throughout winter.

Floral Bushes

Floral bushes like roses need to be winterized as well. Trim the bushes and remove all dead growth. Soak the bushes thoroughly with water and fertilize well. Cover the ground under the bushes with mulch or straw to keep temperature constant. Winterized floral bush perennials should be watched for water needs through the winter.

Winterizing Bulbs

Winterizing perennials with bulbs can be done in two ways. Bulbs can be left in the ground or lifted. Winterize perennial bulbs left in the ground by first trimming as close to ground level as possible. Soak thoroughly with water. Add fertilizer. Cover the soil with 3-4 inches of mulch or straw for protection. Water as needed throughout the winter.

Lifting Bulbs

Lifting bulbs is a superior method of winterizing perennials for several reasons. Bad bulbs can be weeded out. Bulbs can be trimmed and separated for better growth. Bulbs can be re-planted in another location. Extra bulbs can be given to friends. Use a hand fork to remove bulbs from ground. Trim, separate and sort as needed. Dry over winter in a cool dark place. Re-plant in spring.

Mulching Tips

Organic compost can be used in place of mulch to winterize perennials. In this case, the compost keeps plants fertilized through winter months. When using mulch or straw, take care not to pack to tightly. Plants need air to survive. Tightly packed mulch and straw can be a breeding ground for molds and fungus. Leave mulch on until all danger of frost is gone.

Trimming Tips

There is some controversy over whether to trim and weed in the spring or fall. Trimming in the fall allows for a less daunting task in the spring. It also allows for removal of diseased branches and leaves that might cause problems in the spring. Why not get all the work done in the fall so you can concentrate on new spring planting in warm weather?

Winter Watering Tips

Winterizing perennials means following several rules of watering. Do not water when there is snow cover. Water only when the temperature is above forty degrees. Water at mid-day when temperatures are highest. This prevents water from freezing at night when temperatures drop. Infrequent heavy watering is best in winter for maximum root growth.

Winterize perennials for optimum growth. Perennials may do fine on their own, but why not give them a boost? Winterizing includes trimming, watering, fertilizing, weeding, lifting and mulching. Some perennials that may need winterizing are flowers, herbs, trees and shrubs. Winterize perennials using the above tips for healthy spring and summer growth.


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