Monday, November 18, 2013

Is it okay to plant cold-hardy perennials during freezing weather?

Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

Q. Is it okay to plant cold-hardy perennials during freezing weather?

A. It is okay to plant some cold-hardy perennials during freezing weather. Here are some things you must consider:
  • Whether the soil is workable. If your soil is frozen solid, you shouldn't try planting. If it is soft but too wet, don't try planting. You can test whether it's too wet by squeezing a fist full of dirt. If water squeezes out, it's too wet. If the soil tends to crumble, it's okay to plant.
  • Whether the plants you have in mind are reliably or marginally cold-hardy for your area. If they are only marginally cold-hardy, hold off planting until the following spring when danger of frost is past. 
  • Though the plant seems dormant, the roots are growing below even when the top is not. By planting early, the perennials will be more established summer arrives. If the plants are reliably cold-hardy, they may be planted during freezing weather.
  • Whether the plants still have tender new growth, or have hardened off. Perennials in an active growing state are more susceptible to cold damage. Those that have entered dormancy should survive freezing temperatures.
Be sure to water your perennials after planting. Watering will help to settle the soil around the roots. Water also possesses an insulating quality.

For good measure, apply a 3 inch layer of mulch around your plants. The mulch will also help to insulate them from severe cold.

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