What Every Balcony Gardener Should Know about Preparing It for Winter

Balcony garden in Winter

Unless you live in a climate where nothing changes… Summer, winter, spring, autumn, it’s all the same… Then you need to prepare your balcony garden for winter.
And, in fact, there is no area on Earth with only one season. The closest you’ll get is the equatorial tropics where the temperature says close to the same all year, but humidity will differ.
Winter is the coldest period of the year and in some places also the windiest and either dry or humid. In most places, there will be fewer hours of light.
The humidity can be in the form of rain, snow, or even hail or ice.
What precautions can you make to help your plants survive? That’s what we’re going to look at in this article.

Estimate Their Chances of Survival by Staying

Moving your plants from the balcony to somewhere inside your home is an option. But in praxis, they may be hard to do or even impossible.
Therefore, your first step is to research for each of your plants how they will support changes like lower temperatures, more or less water-supply, and more or less wind.
The most important issue here is temperature. It’s easier to compensate and water to your plants according to the changes, and to add shelter against the wind. You can compensate for lower temperatures, but only to a degree. And you can compensate for less light, if necessary, but most plants are created by nature to be less demanding during the winter.
Once you’ve established which plants can safely stay outside and survive, and which cannot, it’s time to compensate for the upcoming weather changes.

Increase the Temperature

There are several ways you can make it more comfortable for your plants outside.
You can set up fences to protect your plants from the cold. You can even get them made of thick plastic or glass to form a greenhouse.
Or you can cover the lower parts of your plants with layers of mulch, or by wrapping their containers in bubble wrap or straw.
You can even cover the whole plant, container, and all, with cloth or fleece.
If you completely enclose your balcony with plexiglass walls (best), clear PVP tarp, or waterproof curtains, you can place a heater out there to help keep your plants warm avoid frost.

Change the Water Supply

Some plants need very little water during the winter period. Others need the same amount.
How does it look in your area? Do you get more or less rain during the winter? If you get a lot, you may protect some of your plants against being over-watered. Others may thrive under the rain, and you won’t need to manually water them. Others again may need some extra care and water because the air is too dry in your area.
Check your local conditions as well as the needs of your plants.

Give Shelter Against the Wind

Shelter against the wind brings a little warmth to your plants, too, so this step is worth taking.
Rough wind can break your plants or make them lose evergreen leaves. It can also dry them out faster or even turn pots over and leave their roots exposed and without water.
If you live in an area that gets very windy during the winter, I highly recommend that you set up windbreaks to help sheltering them against wind, snow, and hail.
If some of your plants still wouldn’t be able to survive the winter outside despite all these precautions, you should consider moving them inside.

Move Fragile Plants Inside

Your best solution for some of your plants may simply be to move them inside. This could turn out to be easier said than done, depending on how they grow right now. Are they in pots or containers? Or in raised beds? There is a big difference between how you should handle the two.

Move Plants in Pots or Containers

Small plants in pots or containers are easily moved. Bigger plants or plants inside self-watering pots may cause a slightly bigger challenge. This is especially true for small trees in terracotta pots. Those are beautiful but heavy.
If you can get help with the lifting, it makes the task easier. Another option is to add your pots to a transport trolley. Here again, you may need help to lift your pots onto it, but after that it’s just an easy task of rolling it to where you want your plants to stay for the winter.
Make sure to put the pots on something so they don’t ruin your carpet or floor. Also, before you put them in a window sill, make sure they can handle that much light during the winter period.

Have Fragile Plants in Raised Beds?

A raised bed is not simple to move. It will contain too much soil and maybe stones to make it possible. It would likely just crash and spread soil, plants, and stones all over the place.
If you have fragile plants which grow in raised beds now, your best option is to dig them up and keep them in pots for the winter. This may demand rather large pots, if the roots go deep or are widely spread.
This can be inconvenient, but if the alternative is dead plants, you may prefer the trouble anyway.

Watch Out for Overheating

Your plants may have gradually gotten used to lower temperature outside. When you move them inside, the difference can be overwhelming.
Too much heat may be damaging for them, dry them out, or make them believe that it’s summer and therefore they should bloom.

Give Your Balcony Garden the Best Options to Survive

Plan, before the winter comes.
When possible, set up protections so your plants can stay in place, and research each species to find out how fragile or demanding they are during the colder period.
Luckily, today you can get the means necessary to have a balcony garden you can enjoy all year long.

Haven Greensprout

I've found my passion in balcony gardening, relishing the simplicity and joy it brings to my urban life. The thrill of harvesting my own veggies has transformed my balcony into a lush oasis, proving there's unmatched delight in homegrown goodness.

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