Is Snow Bad For My Plants?

by Ben Bowen

Does Snow Damage Your Plants?

As I write this there is 10" of snow on the ground and more on the way. For Portland, this is a lot of snow. We have now had 4 snow/ice events and it isn't even the middle of January!

As you look out on the winter wonderland, you may be thinking, "I hope my plants are ok out there". Are they? What should we expect in the garden after an epic winter?

Snow Vs Plants

Does snow hurt plants?

Not usually. The real danger posed by snow involves weight not cold. As the snow piles up on branches they can bend and then break. This is especially true with plants that are brittle to begin with. So certain varieties (like escallonia) and older plants are most at risk.

Most plants can handle the weight just fine. My nandinas, California lilac, and hebe have all been just about flattened by ice and snow already this winter. As it melts they pop right back up.

In fact, the snow has some benefits. Extreme cold is the true enemy. Snow actually insulates them from the worst from the worst of it!

What Should You Do?

For now, nothing. As the snow melts, nothing. Let nature take its course, safe in the knowledge that most (if not all) of your plants will be just fine in the spring. 

If you absolutely have to do something... start scouting Portland area plant nurseries so you know where to get new plants if needed. Until then, just enjoy the rare beauty of a PNW garden covered in snow!

Have pictures of your plants in the snow? Share them on our Facebook page!

plants in snow