Tender plants, a category that includes young plants of all varieties and cold-sensitive plants such as palms (Arecacae), can suffer severe frost damage and even die if exposed to freezing temperatures. Just as you sleep with a blanket to keep yourself warm in winter, you can wrap tender trees and shrubs with insulating blankets or material to prevent damage. Additionally, wrapping plants protects branches so heavy snow doesn't accumulate and bend or break them. You can leave the wrap on throughout winter or add it in advance of a sudden frost warning.
1 Gather the branches of upright, pyramidal shrubs upward so they rest snug against the trunk; tie the branches with soft twine or a strip of burlap fabric to hold them in place. Pyramidal shrubs include "Moonglow" juniper (Juniperus scopulorum "Moonglow"), grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 7, and dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca "Conica"), grown in USDA zones 2 through 8. There is no need to wrap palm tree leaves because it's most important to protect the heart of the palm inside the trunk. Tree branches do not need to be tied to the trunk.
2 Cover the plant with frost cloth, old blankets or burlap fabric. In the case of small shrubs, drape the fabric loosely around the plant and across the top. Wrap the fabric around tree trunks from bottom to top, similar to how you would wrap an injured leg with a long bandage. Wrap tree trunks from the ground up to the lowest branches.
3 Tie a strip of fabric or soft twine around the cloth to hold it in place around the plant. Tie it tight enough to keep it from unraveling, but loose enough that it doesn't girdle the trunk or branches.
4 Wrap fabric along the lowest branches of trees, just as you wrapped it around the trunk. You don't need to wrap every branch when you wrap a tree, but the lower few branches benefit from some winter protection.
Items you will need
- Soft twine
- Fabric strips
- Frost cloth, blankets or burlap fabric
- Small shrubs and round shrubs might prove difficult to wrap or to completely cover with fabric. In this case, you can drive four stakes in the ground spaced evenly around the plant. The stakes should be about 6 inches taller than the plant. Instead of wrapping the fabric directly around the stems, wrap the fabric around the stakes, overlapping edges by about 6 inches, and drape fabric over the top. Staple the fabric to the stakes, using a staple gun and wood staples.
- Fine Gardening: Shelter Plants From Winter's Worst
- Royal Horticultural Society: Overwintering Tender Plants: Wrapping
- University of Minnesota Extension: Protecting Trees and Shrubs Against Winter Damage
- National Gardening Association: Getting Gardens Ready for Winter
- Monrovia: Dwarf Alberta Spruce
- Monrovia: Moonglow Juniper
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