Watering Plants In Winter: When Is It Too Cold To Water Plants?

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As the air gets colder and the first snowfall nearing, many plant owners find themselves in doubt. Should you water the plants in winter or not? When is it too cold to water plants?

If you find yourself asking the same questions, here’s a guide to help you when watering plants in winter

Should You Water Plants in Cold Weather?

Most plants go dormant during winter, regardless of whether they are indoors or outdoors. Since they stop growing, many people believe that watering is no longer needed – which is inaccurate. See, when a plant goes dormant, it does not die. It is simply taking a rest and trying to conserve energy to last the winter or dry season. And because your plants are alive, they still require water from the soil so some of their basic metabolic functions can continue to work. 

For many places in the country, watering plants in winter is necessary. If your location rarely receives heavy snow or usually experience drying winds, then watering even when it is cold is crucial. But aside from your geographic location and climate, the age of your plants is also important. For instance, young plants that are only just starting in your garden need sufficient water. 

Lastly, you should water your plants in winter to keep them protected against freezing nights. See, as long as you do it at the right time, the water you’ll provide will trap heat and help your plants stay warmer as the night comes. Add a couple of insulated covers, and this extra heat will prevent any damages to your plants. 

When Is It Too Cold to Water Plants?

Now that we have established the need to still water plants even if it is cold, let us answer one of the most common questions people ask: when is it too cold to water plants? As a rule of thumb, you should water your plants only when it is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or above. Anything below freezing is considered too cold, and it won’t do your plants any good to water them. 

Furthermore, if you notice the ground or soil already frozen, you may want to skip giving your plants water as they won’t be able to absorb it. This is because the water may only freeze, or it might be unable to reach your plants. Also, any water on the stems, needles, or leaves can freeze as well. 

When to Water Your Plants During Cold Weather

While your plants don’t need as much water as they do in warmer months, you still need to water them deeply during winter. However, you should also make sure that you are not giving your plants too much water as it can do more harm than good. So what should you do?

When watering plants in winter, check the temperature. If it isn’t below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and it isn’t freezing, then you are good to go. However, make sure that the soil is dry to touch. If it is damp, do not water. Additionally, only give your plants water if they are just establishing themselves in the ground and if you do not experience heavy snow. 

Keep in mind that timing is everything when it comes to giving your plants water. So watch weather forecasts closely. Before the cold front comes, make sure that you have watered your whole yard and not just your tender plants. This will raise your soil’s temperature by at least 5 degrees Fahrenheit compared to dry soil, and it will remain until early morning the next day. 

Since the worst conditions usually occur at nighttime or just before sunrise, you should water your plants early in the day. This will give you enough time for the water to soak deeply into the soil before the expected cold arrives. 

How to Prepare Plants for the Cold Weather?

Aside from watering plants, there are other steps you can take to protect your plants from the cold weather, including the following:

  • Move Potted Plants

Remember that some plants are more sensitive to low temperatures than others. For instance, tropical plants are so sensitive that they can be damaged even if it doesn’t reach freezing levels. So to protect them, try moving potted plants near your house where they’ll have southern exposure

  • Cover Your Plants
MECO Plant Covers Freeze Protection with Zipper 2.4oz 47'' x 70'' Upgraded Thickness Shrub Cover, Winter Frost Cover Anti-Freeze Jacket Warm Blanket for Season Extension, Frost Protection (2 Pack)
  • 【Upgraded Thickness】MECO plant cover is upgraded with thickness of 2.4 oz/sq. The size is measured to be W31.5"×H47". It will provide stronger protection for your plants, keeping the cold air out...
  • 【Zipper Design】This freeze protection comes with zipper and drawstring design. You can easily attach the cover to the plant with the drawstring. This ensures stability of covering and warming.
  • 【Breath-Ability】Polypropylene is the main material of the cover, which will allow your plant to breathe smoothly. The plant can get sunlight and grows normally.
  • 【Soft and Light】The fabric is soft and light, no harm to plant growth. It is convenient to wear this jacket for your plants.

To reduce heat loss and to protect your more sensitive plants, consider using covers. You can use cardboard boxes, plastic tubs, or even large trash cans. Your main goal is to cover them from the ground up. This will keep the soil warm, which helps keep your plants warm. 

You can also use a tarp and drape it over your plants towards the soil. This will trap warm air around your plant. Just remember to secure the tarp with some board or rocks to keep it in place. 

Must Read: How to Cover Plants in Cold Weather?

  • Raise the Temperature
Agrosun/Dayspot BURP413 Incandescent Growlight Plant Bulb, 60 Watt
  • Color Temp: 6400K
  • 60 Watt
  • Full daylight spectrum incandescent grow bulbs
  • May be used in any incandescent fixture with E26 socket

Even if you are only expecting a light freeze, consider raising the temperature around your plants for added protection. You can place holiday lights and cover them with a tarp. You can also add insulation. 

  • Mulching
Houseplant Mulch - Very Fine Pine bark Wood Chips for Indoor Plant Soil Covering - 4 quarts
  • REDUCE WATERING - bark soil mulch prevents water evaporation and retains moisture so tropical houseplants require less frequent watering - Over 4 quarts of mulch will pot several houseplants
  • ATTRACTIVE SOIL COVERING - Houseplant bark mulch adds visual consistency to your indoor potted plant garden, houseplant collection and fairy garden while serving as a natural mulch weed cover - chips...
  • SUSTAINABLY SOURCED - 1/8"-1/4" bark size comes from sustainable pine forests in New Zealand and serves as a longer lasting moss alternative for potted plants for a more natural look.
  • PROTECT PLANT ROOTS - Mulch provides insulation that acts as a shady cover for potting soil preventing plant roots from overheating from sunlight during summer. Mulch also helps insulate roots during...

In case of a heavier freeze, watering and use of lights and covers may not be enough. So, if possible, move your plants to a western or southern exposure. Then, apply very heavy mulch or straw in the container. This will act as a blanket or cover for your plant. 

On the other hand, if you are expecting long freezing temperatures or a hard freeze, best to move your plants to the garage or indoors. For your flower beds, you may cover sensitive plants with a heavy layer of leaves. 

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