ISSUE 54  |  Bedrooms

10 Easy Pieces: Plant Blankets

January 09, 2013 4:00 PM

BY Janet Hall

Winter blankets are not just for your bed. Tender plants need cover from winter’s cold. Use plant blankets to protect, but not suffocate, vulnerable plants that are too big to put under a cloche, or too well-rooted to move to a cold frame or indoors.

Above: Photograph via The Martha Blog.

At her Westchester County farm in New York, Martha Stewart covers large shrubs and small trees with burlap in winter to protect them from wind damage and to prevent branches from sagging or breaking off under the weight of snow.

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Above: Lest you think a plastic tarp will do, consider that plant blankets provide insulation, preventing frost damage or worse, and are also breathable, letting in light and moisture essential for plant health. Use them in conjunction with a simple frame to provide shelter from wind and protection from snow weight that can break branches. The same fabrics can also be used to wrap the trunks of saplings to prevent frost damage. Image by Janet Hall.

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Above: Burlap is a great all-natural winter plant protector, and, perhaps, one of the most aesthetically pleasing options. The Gardeneer Natural Burlap Roll is made of 100 percent jute and measures 3-by-24 feet (perfect for cutting pieces to fit your smaller shrubs or wrap sapling trunks); $7.20 per roll at Garden Harvest Supply. Image via Fine Gardening.

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Above: Wrap large shrubs and conifers in burlap to protect limbs from damaging winds and heavy snow. Gardener’s Supply offers a 3-by-50 foot Burlap Roll for $26.95. Don’t forget the essential Ball O’Twine to hold it in place; $8 at Ancient Industries.

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Above: For more snow protection, consider erecting a simple frame – three secure tall stakes will do – to create a burlap tent. Image via the Gardening Info Zone.

Above: Martha Stewart’s cement birdbath wears a hand-stitched burlap blanket. Photograph via The Martha Blog.

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Above: Allowing 75-percent light transmission, the lightweight Reemay Polyester Fleece Row Cover protects from frost down to 30 degrees; $15.95 for a 67-inch wide, 20-foot long piece at Territorial Seed Company.

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Above: For slightly more winter plant warmth, consider the Garden Quilt Plant Cover that protects plants in temperatures down into the low twenties. Available in a 6-foot wide row width (either 20- or 50-foot in length), or a 12-by-20 foot size that can be used not only on beds, but also to drape over shrubs, small trees, or other plants that need a layer of warmth; $12.95, $21.95, and $19.95 respectively at Gardener’s Supply.

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Above: Fleece is available in pre-made “jackets” for container plants and shrubs. The Small Frost Protection Plant Covers are made of soft polypropylene fleece material that will protect your plants but won’t cause harm to buds or leaves. Light and moisture filter through the fabric. Measuring 31-by-24 inches, they are $45.95 for a set of four through Amazon. The XL Frost Protection Plant Cover (6-feet tall) is also available for $23.75. Photograph via Two Wests and Elliot’s Garden Blog.

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Above: If you need to provide protection from the weight of snow, consider using fleece plant fabric stretched over a frame. The pre-made Frost Cover with Hoops is easy to set up (the galvanized steel hoops are sewn into the fabric); perfect for plant rows. It measures 9-feet, 8-inches long and 24-inches wide; $17.95 at Gardener’s Supply.

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Above: Prefer green? Planket plant covers are made of spun-bonded, non-woven but breathable material with metal grommets to help secure the covering with stakes or twine. The 10-by-20 foot Planket Plant Cover is $39.99. A Set of Eight Planket Plant Covers (as shown) is $99.99. All at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

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Above: Consider a DIY plant protector. Where we spend Thanksgiving in Eastern Washington, small rhododendrons are protected from snow by a simple wood teepee (or put your summer vine Tuteurs to work) covered in cut-to-size shade cloth (6-by-15-foot Shade Cloth Roll is available for $29.97 at Home Depot) and then insulated with straw. Photograph by Janet Hall.

For more cold weather protection, see Bamboo Cloches to Blanket Your Garden.

Explore More: 10 Easy Pieces.