Potted trees set out on a balcony or front porch are a perfect choice for individuals living in an apartment or small home. They don't take up much space and provide plenty of character. Unfortunately, potted plants are susceptible to injury come winter time. In fact, even the tree's pot can suffer damage from freezing temperatures. Potted tree owners must take a few precautionary measures to ensure their trees live to see another spring.
Wait to winterize your potted trees until after the first hard frost occurs. This gives the tree time to lose most of its leaves, says the University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County.
Bring smaller trees into a basement with a consistent temperature between 35 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don't have a basement, follow the instructions for larger trees.
Tie the branches of larger trees together with string or twine. You are going to insulate the trees later on, and this step will prevent the unnecessary breaking of any tree branches.
Water the soil in your tree's pot so that it is moist, but not sopping wet.
Sprinkle a 3-inch layer of organic mulch over the soil in your tree's pot. This protects the roots of the tree from becoming too cold, while also allowing the soil to retain moisture.
Arrange the potted trees so that they are grouped together with the hardiest plants making up the perimeter. Gethsemane Gardens recommends this as an added measure to protect the trees from the extreme cold.
Surround the outside of the pot of each potted tree with a layer or two of burlap. This will further protect the tree's roots from the winter cold.
Create a cylinder around the outside of each potted plant with some chicken wire. The wire should be wider and taller than the tree.
Toss straw inside the chicken wire to fill in any empty spaces and to offer additional insulation.
Wrap a layer of burlap around the chicken wire, and tie it in place with string or twine.
Top the chicken wire cage with a layer of plastic sheeting. If you don't cover the top of the cage, all of your insulation will blow away, exposing your tree to the elements.