Can You Plant In The Winter

by Ben Bowen

Can I Plant In The Winter?

Will it be too cold to plant? I get this question all the time as I fill up our winter schedule. And it's understandable.

If you are going to invest in a bunch of new plants you want to be sure they are getting off to a good start. If that means waiting for spring, so be it. You want to plant at the best time. Right?

The good news- for you, your plants, and for me- is that our Portland winters pose little danger to your new Fastiagate Mugo Pine or Manzanita. Here's why:

planting in cold weather
  • Our winters are just not that cold. We warm to the 40's or 50's most days. Plants are very happy with that.
  • Many plants go dormant in the winter. This makes them less susceptible to damage or shock while planting. Planting or transplanting in the winter is like moving your sleeping kid from the car to their bed- potentially easier than the regular routine!

When Is It Too Cold To Plant?

I can't give you an exact temperature, but I can tell you when we won't plant. If the ground is frozen, or will shortly be frozen, to a depth of 6" or more we wait for the temperature to rise. Every couple of years we get s string of 4-5 days with lows in the teens and highs below freezing. Don't plant then. 

If it's just our regular wet and cold-ish winter weather? Plant away. Consider adding a little extra compost or mulch to insulate the root ball. Then go drink some hot chocolate.

Benefits Of Winter Planting

Are there perks to winter planting? There can be. As I mentioned above, dormant plants are protected from shock. And as the weather warms late in February your plants will already be in place and getting established. That's a protection against the heat of summer (the real threat to your plants!)

So, put on your Muck boots, gloves, and jacket. Take the Subaru to your local nursery for some discounted plants. Plant away and enjoy them as they wake in the spring!