Here in East Tennessee, our plant hardiness zone has been designated a 7a. The plant zones are determined by the average low temperature. In 7a we see a minimum average cold temperature of 0 to 5degrees. Now, that sounds very chilly, you may be thinking how can anything survive outside when it’s that cold. While that might be too cold for you and me, it’s not for the plants, if you have picked the right plants for our growing zone. If your plant is not suited for our growing zone and you’re able to pot it up, it would be much happier inside your warm house or garage. Let’s focus on our zone 7a plants that will be braving the cold winter and how to help them out.

Watering: Winter watering isn’t anything daunting. All you need to do is watch the air temperatures throughout the cold months. If it’s 30 degrees or less outside the ground will be frozen and watering isn’t necessary. But if we are seeing temperatures staying 40 degrees or higher, it’s time to get the water hose out.

Mulch: You will want to make sure your plants are mulched before wintertime. This can be hardwood mulch, dyed mulch, rock, or pine straw. The mulch helps insulate the plant roots keeping them safe from frost and cold air.

Planting: As fall comes to an end, it’s time for the mums to go away and the beautiful winter hardy kale, cabbage, and violas to make their appearance. Replacing your soft annuals with something cold hardy will give you that pop of color during the dark winter days.

Snow: On the rare chance we get a hard snow, you will want to keep this tip in mind. To remove the snow that is weighing down your branches, use a soft rake or broom to sweep the snow off. But remember to sweep up not down so you don’t break anything!