Overwintering perennials

I have heard and read that it is a good idea to cover perennials with 6 to 8 inches of leaves. We are in a new development and we do not have a lot of leaves; however, I obtained some awaiting pickup in the street of a nearby neighborhood and I raked up our few leaves. I placed them over three new this year plants and piled them up as much as I could. Then along came a wind and blew most away. I managed to save a few on one plant by running out and placing one large nursery plastic pot over the leaves with a brick on top to hold it there. My questions are will leaving the pot over the leaves covering the plant hurt the plant if I leave it there possibly all winter and what do most people do to keep the leaves piled up as high as 6 to 8 inches?
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Hello, merrily. Most plants good to zone need something like 4" of mulch up to or a little past the drip line. As you get closer to the main trunk of the shrub, you may want to reduce the mulch to maybe 0-1" (rhododendrons and azaleas for example). So if your plants are good to zone, mulch should normally be enough.
A plant is out of zone when -for example- you live in Zone 6 but the plant is good through Zone 7. Under those conditions, then you have to use special overwintering techniques that includes putting a lot of leaves around the shrub. To help with such scenarios, some people use chicken wire and fill then inside with leaves. You can see this often used when people have Hydrangea Macrophyllas in zones 6 and colder.
Once the plants are dormant, putting a pot on top of them will not hurt them but it will prevent moisture from reaching them. If your ground does not freeze, then you may want to water once every week or two weeks. By the way, I doubt the pot will protect from cold temperatures much; it will protect from snow and winds though.
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Depends on where you live, and which plants you're dealing with.
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We live in Zone 6 (I've heard some gardeners call it 6B). I'm concerned about three smallish plants, a Hosta, a Bleeding Heart, and a Day Lily Stella D'ora. We do have some shrubs and they were planted in 2005 and we didn't do anything to protect them over the two winters that we've been here and they seemed to have done OK, except for some insect problem in the summer. Of the three mentioned plants, only the Hosta did well over the summer. The plants were purchased from a Future Farmers of America student and they were field grown plants with roots, etc. and someone told me that the two that did come up some but did not bloom may bloom next summer. I really didn't understand what I was buying very well.
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I'm in zone "5 maybe 6" (Western NY along Lake Ontario). I never did anything special for hosta or daylillies, and they do fine. I don't have bleeding heart, but a friend does, and she's given it no special treatment. I mulch the entire garden with a 3-6" layer of ground up leaves & grass (from the lawnmower), but that's not done with any specific plant in mind.
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On 11/26/07 7:22 AM, in article snipped-for-privacy@b40g2000prf.googlegroups.com, "Merrily"

None of those will need any extra protection unless you only planted them late this fall. I don't know if heaving is an issue for you, but it can be for me on late additions. I just keep my eyes open and push them back in.
Cheryl
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I live in Jackson. All three plants need no special care for winter. The Bleeding Heart grows in the woods behind my house. Betsy
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In article

It is my understanding is that some grape growers in the Finger Lakes region of New Your State will bury their vines in dirt during the winter. So if you are in a region where winter temps drop to 0 F and your plants are already dormant, you may wish to try burying them also.
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Billy

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Merrily wrote:

I did mulch some expensive unusual bulbs (recommended first year) & a few other things. My perennials will have to sink or swim on their own, that's why I have them in the first place, not as much fussing. Protecting roses, at least in my zone 5a, you can do more damage to the canes than taking your chances, may mulch a couple and two I have to bury in dirt here soon because I've read the canes are only hardy to 20 degrees, and they're bands that didn't put out much growth although I planted out of the pots in early fall or late August, can't remember.
My bleeding heart got partly ruined by the late spring deep freeze, but I covered it on the bad nights with a pot & plastic and it came back and finished blooming, it was huge for its second year, may have been set back; otherwise I don't protect them for winter. I'm not going to worry about my hostas, and some of my lilies have a little mulch left from this year.
I will do extensive mulching in the spring but that is to conserve moisture and keep weeds down.
The only way to protect with leaves in the fall is to make a small chicken wire cage (24" stuff), stake, and fill with leaves or pile on leaves and cover w/screen or chicken wire and lay brick or stone on top of it when they die back. Be sure to take it off early enough in the spring.
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On Sun, 25 Nov 2007 13:44:20 -0800 (PST), Merrily

It's a misconception why people mulch perennials. Success rates are superior when you select plants suitable to your USDA Zone and rainfall average.
In very cold climates people put mulch around the graft union on some hybrid roses, but if antiques are used no additional mulch is necessary. Even then, the point of mulching any plant is to keep the soil an even temperature through the winter. It's best if you live in a place where the ground freezes, it's best to wait until the ground is frozen before you apply mulch. Mulch keeps the ground frozen which prevents heaving which results when you have freezing and thawing temperatures all winter.
I live in USDA Zone 8b and I do not add additional mulch to protect plants because it never stays cold long enough for the ground to freeze. When soil freezes, it does not go below 27 degrees.
Mulching keeps it frozen. This is to help clear the confusion.
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Right, if you are trying to protect these plants it's from being heaved up, not frozen out. Put the mulch on after the first good freeze. This keeps the ground from freezing/thawing cycles. My gardening creed is survive or be replaced, mulching was to improve soil quality, not plant protection. Darwin rules!
I always heard...."My, your plants and flowers always looks so lush and healthy." Yup, the weak and sickly get yanked. I seldom messed with "fussy characters."
Val
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wrote:

Oh I totally agree. I live in Texas and I don't water anything other than my container brugmansia collection. If it doesn't survive the summer here without water, OUT.
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