cold weather

How the Cold Weather Impacts Plants

How to help plants survive the winter

How do plants survive the cold weather of snow and ice during winter? Unfortunately, plants don’t have the ability to hibernate or escape the harsh winter environment like their animal cohabitants. Plants are forced to adapt to the conditions around them, as they are rooted into the ground, and one of the most difficult aspects of wintery places is the frozen sources of water.


A lack of water may cause wilting or even death in plants, and the cold freezes the cells in a plant which interrupts the pathways for nutrients and water to flow through.


Some plants, like deciduous for example, handle their lack of water by dropping their leaves and going dormant.


In areas that have frigid weather year-round, such as the Arctic, plants have adapted in other ways, such as changing the shape in which they grow to shed heavy snow more easily. Other adaptations include holding on to dead leaves for insulation or using a deep snow to protect against surface level cold temperatures.


Cold damage is most noticeable in the early spring, when a warm period begins, and plants and trees remain withered or frozen. Temperature is a huge factor that breaks dormancy in seeds and plants.


With that in mind, just because the winter is arriving doesn’t mean the death of your plants is coming, because there are a few prevention methods that may help your blossoms live to see another spring.



1.    Cover and enclose plants to prevent frost.

There are a variety of plant protectors on the market, with a variety of sizes and shapes. These protectors trap insulating air inside and block cold winter winds and shield plants from damaging temperature fluctuations.


2.    Insulate watered soil with mulch to retain moisture and warmth.

Because any ground left bare during winter undergoes a fluctuation of temperature, applying mulch around plants and trees insulates the ground and protects precious water sources under the surface and maintains a steady soil temperature. The best mulch for winter consists of shredded leaves and compost, but pine needles, straw, and bark chips work well too.



3.    Water plants thoroughly.

While your plants will not need as much water during their dormancy as they do in the spring and summer, don’t forget to still water them a few times a month. Fortunately, at Front Range Arborists, we have a Winter Watering Program, and our experts will ensure you don’t have to worry about watering your plants this cold season.


4.    Choose hardy or native plants which adapt best to their climate.

One of the best ways to help your plants survive the cold weather is to set them up for survival by doing research on what plants are the hardiest with fluctuating temperatures, or which plants are native to the area. The toughest plants are usually native species that have lived in the area for thousands of years and are well adapted to the local growing conditions.



Overall, don’t be fearful of the cold weather when it comes to your plants. Be proactive, do your research, and allow Front Range Arborists to help preserve your plants and trees. Contact us today for more information.