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How To Create A Micro Climate

Many of us have plants in large pottery outdoors that are unable to be move indoors over the winter. There are a few steps you can take to winterize your potted plants, without leaving them to fend for themselves! Here are some ideas to get them through to spring:

Create a Microclimate: A microclimate is a set of atmospheric conditions that differ from those in the surrounding areas. It is important to create a microclimate for your potted plants if temperatures are extremely low for more than just a few hours. You can create one by placing your potted plants close together, under a covered area, right up against your home. After they’re all grouped together against your home, you can water them well. Cover with N-sulate blankets and secure the outer edge with objects like pots or rocks. Placing Christmas lights underneath the plant cover can help with raising the temperature a few degrees as well. By doing all these things, your plants have a fighting chance to beat the freeze.

Continue spraying all plants with Liquid Seaweed every 2 weeks: Seaweed fertilizers as a foliar spray applied directly on the leaves increase the plant’s cold hardiness and helps with heat stress by strengthening a plant’s natural immune system. We recommend using THIS PRODUCT before a freeze occurs. A healthier plant is less prone to insect and disease problems as well!

Plant Caddies: These items will save your backs and arms from carrying big, heavy pots around! The most important thing to know is how much weight a caddy can hold. Most start at 220 lbs and go up from there. Plastic wheels with wooden pieces won’t be as sturdy as metal wheels with durable plastic/reinforced wood. If you’re using them indoors, ones that have solid bottoms with sides are preferable because no water will spill on the floor. 

Why do garden centers push plant blankets and not other materials found around the home?

Plastic tarps are lightweight and easy to use, but rain collects on top and gets very heavy, which leads to the material touching the plant. Wherever a leaf touches the plastic, there is no insulation. Freeze damage can occur to the parts of the plant that touch the plastic. Also, heat can build up under clear plastic on a sunny day, leaving you with cooked plants. Ultimately, plastic is not a good choice for your plants.

Fabric covers are heavier (especially blankets, comforters, and quilts) and if the fabric gets wet from rain or snow, the weight becomes a bigger issue. The weight of wet fabric can cause the plant to break, and wet fabric does not provide as much insulation as dry fabric.

We recommend N-Sulate Plant Blankets! This product is a 1.5 ounce, medium weight, permeable, UV treated fabric that is designed to protect all types of plants from freezing precipitation. It installs easily and is reusable. It allows air and light in but not moisture, allowing the blanket to stay on plants for long periods of time if needed. It protects tender plants by raising the temperature beneath the fabric by at least 6-8°F. 


Step 1: Loosely drape the cover over the plants you want to protect.

Step 2: Anchor securely to the ground using extra pots, rocks, or anything heavy enough to not move around easily.

Step 3: Remove when adverse weather conditions end. After use, store away from direct sunlight.

If we have a hard freeze for prolonged period with ice and cold winds, here’s the checklist for your outdoor plants:

  • Bring them all close together on a covered porch, preferably one that is south facing (blocking the north wind).
  • Using stakes or other sturdy objects to hold up the blankets so they don’t touch the plants, cover plants your plants fully using blankets and sheets.
  • Then, on top of the extra covers you have provided, cover your microclimate with N-sulate blankets.

If the weather calls for intense rain and freezing ice, you can cover with plastic; just remove it whenever possible so the plants can breathe. The more layers of covers, the better the insulation provided, but less oxygen for your plants.  Don’t forget that whatever you choose to cover plants with, the cover must extend all the way to the ground and be sealed with stones, bricks or soil. It’s the warmth of the earth trapped under the cover that will help protect the plant, and this will not happen unless the cover extends to the ground.

Use LED Christmas lights to help warm plants. They are extremely durable and can withstand bitter cold, high heat, and water. If they can survive an entire winter hanging onto the side of your home as Christmas lights, then you know they will do well around your outside potted plants! The miniature lights only give off mild heat..the older C-9 bulbs are best for more heat. Be sure not to place bulbs on plant leaves, only around woody stems.

For any questions regarding preparing plants for a hard freeze, come in to talk with a sales associate! We would love to help you save you plants so that come spring, everything can bounce back better than ever!