Effortless Gardening with Gwen: Winter Plants 101


Gardening and winter weather aren’t a likely pair unless you are a biologist or have an emerald green thumb.   As soon as the weather starts to cool, I dump my summer petunias into the garbage and settle in for several months of store bought herbs.  It is depressing and wasteful.  Gwen Clark does not have that problem, but Gwen is not your average lady.  She is the plant whisperer.  I really mean it.  Combining science with know-how, Gwen brings plants from the dead and sustains plant life through dark winter months.  I don’t get it.  Selfishly, I asked her to share some tips with me.  She had so much to teach that she is the first official Effortless and Exquisite Expert!  Effortless and Exquisite will share weekly tips on all things gardening and green.  So on to Winter Gardening 101!

The best tip Gwen gives for winter plants is to let them RELAX.  Everyone needs a rest, we all look a little haggard when we don’t get it.  Plants are the same way.  In winter, plants need to take a break from being beautiful to simply rest.  They may not look so pretty while resting – but it DOESN’T MEAN THEY’RE DEAD!
These daisies are a perfect example, they look like most of us after a late night out.  They need a break to recharge the batteries for another summer of beautiful color.  Because of cold weather and lessened sunlight, the chlorophyll diminishes and the plant goes into an almost state of hibernation.  In this state, keep your pots warm above 32 degrees and water them periodically.  Avoid over-watering as this will damage the plant.  Store them near a window where sunlight and indirect light will reach them.  Beginning in February or March, gradually fertilize them periodically until you see the green leaves start to appear.
Gwen explains plants are similar to grass in winter.  As grass is unable to photosynthesize during winter months, the green fades to yellow and brown.  Plants will do the same.  If you live in a place where direct sunlight is not available at all, florescent or lamp light will suffice.  You must give them a period of light each day.  Plants will likely drop leaves as they go through the winter cycle.
So to recap, don’t throw those potted outdoor plants out!  Bring them inside and leave them beside the window.  Relax when they fade in color and give the plants a period of rest.  Water them periodically – but not too much.  Gradually fertilize between Valentine’s Day to St. Patrick’s Day and get ready for healthy, lush plants next year!
Gwen Clark is an award winning agriculture and horticulture expert.  Well known throughout the southeast in agriculture circles, she is the primary Future Farmers of America advisor for Avery County Schools.  During her career, she has earned a stellar reputation promoting agriculture education for thousands of students.  She is responsible for securing grants for agriculture and horticulture research and education and works closely with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Agency and North Carolina State University.  We are extremely fortunate to have Gwen advising Effortless and Exquisite!

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Julie, The Effortless Girl, is from a small (teeny tiny) community in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina. The Effortless Girl was born out of a desire to challenge herself to find accessible, unique lifestyle ideas with cost savings in mind. LEARN MORE >

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