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Veronica plants (all 500+ species) are known for their low requirements and ability to persevere even in the most challenging conditions, such as cold temperatures. However, if you’re thinking about growing them through the winter, it’s still important to prepare them properly to give them the best chances of survival.
However, what’s the best way to prepare Veronica plants for the winter?
To prepare Veronica plants for the winter, water them deeply before the first frost, apply a slow-release fertilizer, prune them as much as you can without compromising their health, apply a thick layer of mulch, cover them if necessary, and select the right growing spot for them.
If you’re looking to overwinter your Veronica plants, preparing them beforehand can significantly affect their chances of survival. Therefore, read on as I take you through the six steps you need to follow to make sure the flowers are well-equipped to handle the harsh winter weather.
1. Generously Water Them Before the First Frost
Deep watering your Veronica plants helps build up moisture that will help them stay protected throughout the winter. This moisture allows the roots to hold onto some extra nutrients and stay hydrated all winter long.
With that said, be careful not to overwater your plant. Winters can be especially humid, and too much moisture buildup in the soil can lead to root rot and, in turn, plant death (source).
Remember that you’re generously watering the plant before the first frost because you should be planning on cutting back on your watering sessions once the first frost hits and the plants start to enter a more dormant phase.
So consider this your “last hoorah”—an attempt to provide the plant with enough hydration and nutrients before the cold and humid weather makes it difficult for you to control these variables.
2. Apply a Slow-Release Fertilizer
Speaking of providing your plant with enough nutrients, this might also be a good time to apply a slow-release fertilizer to the soil. Again, you’ll want to do so before the first frost hits.
You want your Veronica plants to be strong and well-fed by that point.
The reason why it’s best to opt for a slow-release fertilizer is because by doing so, you ensure that the plant has plenty of nutrients to use all winter long.
Otherwise, you could risk causing a fertilizer burn or leaving the roots high and dry with nothing to sustain them when they need it the most.
3. Apply a Thick Layer of Mulch
I really can’t recommend mulching enough, as it helps the soil retain moisture and nutrients, protects the plants against weeds, pests, and diseases, and promotes better stem stability (source).
However, it also acts as a “blanket” during colder months, helping preserve heat and a good soil consistency no matter the weather conditions. Think of mulching as an insulator that protects the root system from the harsh winter elements. (See Compost vs Mulch: Make Sure You Know the Proper Use For Each).
If the only thing separating below-zero temperatures and your Veronica plant’s roots is a thin layer of soil, there’s a good chance that the roots will freeze, leading to many potential issues.
However, adding a layer of insulation on top of the soil makes it much harder for the cold air and freezing temperatures to penetrate down to the plant’s roots, which remain unaffected as a result.
4. Prune Them Without Compromising Their Health
Since winter is a time when resources like nutrients, water, and light need to be used sparingly and efficiently, you’ll want to at least make sure they’re being used to sustain the most vital processes of your Veronica plant. So, how can you do that?
The only right answer is “pruning.” Late fall is the time to cut any damaged or, worse, dead foliage that might be wasting precious resources without contributing to the plant’s overall well-being.
Don’t worry; even healthier blooms will reappear in the spring as long as you do this right. (See Does Pruning Stimulate Growth? You Need To Understand This!)
Be careful not to go overboard with pruning, though. Make sure that you leave any strong, visibly healthy components untouched. These might be essential to keeping the plant strong during the challenging winter months.
5. Select the Right Spot
When preparing your Veronica plants for the winter, it’s also a good idea to analyze their placement and consider how their location might affect their chances of survival.
Veronica plants usually require six hours of direct sunlight in order to thrive, and as the days become shorter, you’ll want to optimize their sun exposure as much as possible.
So, if you notice that they’re planted in a shadowy corner of your garden where a lot of rain or snow tends to collect, you might want to transfer them to a more appropriate spot where they have a better chance of survival.
6. Cover Them
Though this step isn’t always necessary, it can be a lifesaver during those especially harsh winters. In the same vein, if you haven’t been able to take most of the precautionary steps mentioned above, covering your Veronica plants might be that last-resort solution that can end up saving them.
When it comes to choosing a cover for your plants, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. The best one for you will depend on your budget, priorities, how much of the garden you’re looking to cover, and how harsh the climate is.
My top suggestion for most gardeners would be a frost blanket of burlap (link to Amazon).
Even though Veronica plants are usually pretty adaptable and can thrive even in the most inconvenient conditions, if you’re looking to overwinter them, it’s still a good idea to prep them beforehand, especially if you live in an especially harsh climate.
Hopefully, the six steps outlined above have given you some ideas on ensuring your flowers remain healthy and thriving all winter.
Remember that though a combination of all five is preferable, even implementing a few of them can go a long way when protecting your Veronica plants.