One good thing you can say about all this snow in the mid-west is your plants are well protected from the winter elements. Snow is excellent winter mulch.

Mulching may not be on your list of things to do this time of year but if you live in a cold climate, you might want to rethink that. Winter mulching makes sure that the plants you put to bed in the fall don’t wake up before they’re supposed to. Tulip and other flowering bulbs are a great example of this. Have you ever seen daffodils sprout in a January thaw? It is typically a little too early for this to occur. Winter mulching also helps the fall plantings conserve whatever water remains in the soil during winter and that all the amendments you added to your soil last season don’t just wash away.

Winter mulching is about keeping the ground cold, not warm. The hard part is knowing when to properly apply it. But for you lucky gardeners buried under a foot or so of snow, nature has taken care of that for you. Here are some winter mulching tips for our climate zone.

We are located on the border of zone 5 or 6, depending on exactly where you live. A cover of 2-3” of mulch is sufficient to keep your plants warm and help retain moisture and nutrients in the ground. Applying the mulch up around the trunk or stems of the plant is fine ONLY if you pull back this mulch when the weather turns for the better. Remember, typically, mulch around trees in the shape of a donut, with the mulch pulled away from the trunk. Do not mulch in the shape of a volcano around the plant. Also by using hardwood mulch, you are adding other plant matter and soils to the area and this will help keep you plants not only warm, but healthy too!