Cold, Wind, Snow....Winter's Harsh Realities
Very cold, sub-freezing temperatures are forecast for my Zone 6 garden in southwest Ohio. I'm inclined to wrap up on the couch with a quilt and a plate of munchies nearby. As my poor, darling plants are out there facing the elements, I know I need to take some steps to protect some of the more delicate ones from the winter cold.
Mulching is probably the easiest method to insulate roses. I pile the chopped leaves up around the canes to 15" - 18". The root and stem joint, or bud union, should be covered. Certainly the canes may have winter die-back, but they can be pruned in the early spring. Hybrid Teas are probably the most tender of the roses; shrub roses tend to be more hardy.
I generally do not burlap my containers. I have said before, I'm a lazy gardener, so I tend to take a less time consuming approach. I gather my containers - some need the aid of a 2-wheel dolly - and I group them up near the west side of the house. I mound leaves around the pots to protect the roots from being exposed to cold winds. Some would tell you to use the north side walls, out of the sun, but I haven't had any losses (yet). The overhang is 3' wide, so again, watering manually is needed.
A garden club friend, Marian, has 20-30 bonsai plants in some pretty, yet shallow containers. Most are trees and evergreens that typically go dormant. She has a trench near the house foundation in which she buries her pots.
The bubble wrap can be purchased to wrap containers and add another layer of insulation.
Sun, wind, and cold affect broadleaf evergreens like rhododendron, azaleas, and holly. Moisture can be reduced in the leaves during the winter. Frozen ground reduces the uptake of water through the roots. Screening these evergreens with burlap can help reduce wind damage, and offer shade from winter sun.
Anti dessicants like Wilt Pruf offer a film on the leaves to reduce moisture loss to our winter evergreens. ( Spray on your Christmas tree too, to have the holiday decorations a little longer.) Two products are Wilt Pruf or Wilt Stop. Both can be found at the Amazon Store, garden centers, or hardware store.
Mulch gardens only after the ground is frozen. Mulching too early may cause the ground to not freeze and plants will not go completely dormant. Consequently, this semi-dormant condition, call deacclimation, can allow roots to be damaged by the cold even if this plant is labeled hardy to your zone.
Mulching at the right time can keep plants from 'heaving' (plant rises out of ground exposing more shallow roots). My heuchera - coral bells - are known for this.
Tying these arborvitae can protect the splitting of leader trunks - a common result of heavy snow.
Deciduous tree trunks are also susceptible to sun scald.
Mulch and debris make a good cover for voles. Clean areas around plants can minimize vole activity. A 1/4" screen opening, extending 3-4 " below the surface around a susceptible bed can also lessen vole damage.
Rabbits will strip bark from trees and shrubs.
Barriers and repellants are useful deterrants. A 1 inch wire mesh around plants, at least 15" to 18" will work well.
Deer barriers need to be built around the tree so that the deer cannot reach into it to eat. Spray deer repellents like Liquid Fence work IF you are determined - respray after a rain. This urine based solution will wash away.