Considering Winter Conditions While Planting

Sometimes in the fair weather of spring and summer our quest to "cover that foundation" or "get it in the ground" can get ahead of us. Snow from roofs, wind, rain and water run-off are all important considerations at the time of planting.

The best way to avoid damage to plants is to allow enough room between structures and plants to allow for snow, water and ice to fall from the roof. We've all seen wooden structures and burlap used to protect plants, and this may be an effective method for some, but on a larger scale, can be cost and time prohibitive.

Another common problem is what we call "utility" damage. In our gardening exuberance we often create areas that are susceptible to winter damage by meter readers and fuel delivery personnel. If a plant is buried under snow, one misstep can wreak havoc with brittle plants. If you have an existing trouble area, consider using some perennial material in combination with shrubs that can handle the forces of nature, since most perennials emerge from ground level each year.

Some plants that are more tolerant of snow load and extreme conditions are listed below. You will also find a list of plants that are the most severely damaged by winter winds and snow. These plant lists should be used as a general guide; for any specific questions or concerns, please contact us.

Shrubs That Will Tolerate Snow Load

These shrubs will tolerate a reasonable amount of snow load.

  • Acer
  • Buddleia
  • Caryopteris
  • Chaenomeles
  • Clethra
  • Cornus
  • Cotinus
  • Cotoneaster
  • Euonymus
  • Hibiscus
  • Hydrangea
  • Hypericum
  • Ilex
  • Juniperus
  • Leucothoe
  • Microbiota
  • Myrica
  • Physocarpus
  • Picea
  • Pinus
  • Potentilla
  • Prunus
  • Rhus
  • Salix
  • Sorbaria
  • Spiraea
  • Stephanandra
  • Syringa
  • Thuja
  • Weigela

Plants Susceptible to Damage

Pay special attention to these plants during the winter and provide cover if at all possible. Plants marked with an asterisk (*) are also susceptible to winter wind damage.

  • Acer *
  • Azalea
  • Berberis
  • Daphne
  • Deutzia
  • Forsythia
  • Ilex
  • Juniperus
  • Kalmia *
  • Lonicera
  • Picea *
  • Pieris *
  • Pinus
  • Rhododendron *
  • Sciadopitys *

Winter Interest Perennials

Provide structure to your winter garden with these perennials.

  • Achillea
  • Allium
  • Artemisia
  • Aruncus
  • Astilbe
  • Baptisia
  • Bergenia
  • Cimicifuga
  • Coreopsis
  • Echinacea
  • Echinops
  • Epimedium
  • Kirengeshoma
  • Perovskia
  • Rudbeckia
  • Salvia
  • Sedum