Those of us who use potted plants around our landscapes, on our patios and in our gardens face a problem each winter: how to keep them protected during the long cold winter. In areas where extreme cold is frequent, it’s quite hard to keep perennials in the ground alive. Keeping potted plants alive is much harder. The soil in the ground could moderate the temperatures, but the small amount in pots tends to lose heat more readily. The cardinal rule is to keep the soil in the pots from becoming totally dry or freezing solid. The first step you can follow is to check your pots. Ensure that there is no room for water to collect on the surface of the soil, where it could freeze, thaw and freeze again. Particularly, this is damaging to perennials. As important as good drainage is, fluffy soil adds a measure of insulation. The best option is to move the pots indoors, wherever there is room. This could mean a basement, a garage or even a greenhouse if you have one. An unheated garage can help by moderating outdoor temperatures and thereby improving chances of survival of your plants. After insulating them with cardboard or rolled newspaper, covering them with tarps may give you the 2-3 degrees of warmth that might mean the difference between freezing and surviving. By being too warm, basements could pose a problem. Due to the warmth in the basement, some plants might be fooled into thinking it is the spring season and could be ‘shocked’ when replanted outside. If you have no room inside or your pots are too big to move, try sticking the plants in the ground, since ground temperatures fluctuate which tend to moderate the soil temperature too. Bury your plants deeply with several inches of soil and mulch over the top- this will increase their chances of survival. You can even bury smaller pots into larger ones. Protecting shrubs, woody potted plants and trees requires extra care. It is advised to wrap delicate tree trunks with burlap- starting from the soil line and going as high up as possible. Using fencing like chicken wire to hold these pots up and heaping mulch and leaves around them will further improve their survival chances. Never abandon your plants, no matter how you overwinter your potted plants. Uncover and inspect them whenever you have the chance- don’t wait till the winter. Start preparing from now so that you’re not caught by a sudden cold snap!