Prepare and protect. Those are the tasks to tackle now, especially if you have tender, non-native plants.
Winter is coming, and it could be moderate or severe. Regardless of the extremes, it’s important to be prepared and protect tender plants, especially non-native species that require an extra degree of warmth to help them survive.
What to do:
Layer, layer, layer. Using anti-frost fabric is easy and effective. It provides a light thermal layer that still allows water and sunlight to penetrate, as well as allowing the plant to breathe. Be sure to cover up your plants while the sun is out so the heat can build up and keep the plants warm through the night.
Maintain mulch. When applied two to three inches deep, mulch helps retain heat and protect the roots from freezing temperatures.
Be selective about site. Location is an important factor. Grouping plants close to walls can create microclimates that help plants retain warmth. Also, avoid placing cold-sensitive plants in depressions as the cold tends to accumulate and linger in low places.
Form a frame. The use of cold frames — small temporary greenhouses made of wood or cinder blocks and PVC lines covered with plastic — can help plants survive the winter, especially if the plants are in containers. Frames are easy to assemble/disassemble and can be reused every winter.
Other things to keep in mind: If your plants will be kept in the garage or other enclosed space, remember they still need good lighting and circulating air. Also, spritz water on the plant leaves occasionally to keep them from drying out.