Why a Cold Winter Can Benefit Your Plants

earthworks winter’s effects on weeds and insectsThe cold, damp weather of winter often gets a bad rap for wreaking destruction on plants. While it is true that some plants are more sensitive to cold temperatures and are at a greater risk of shock, the winter weather can provide benefits to your plants.

Mild winters are seen as good omens for your plants, giving them a greater chance to be healthy in the spring. These winters, however, can include more severe spring and summer weed and insect problems. On the other hand, harsh winters with a lingering cold will lessen the risk of weeds, disease, fungus, and insects harming your plants.

Bacteria, insects, and some weeds become dormant in colder temperatures. If temperatures get cold enough, bacteria and insects can die. The longer these are dormant, or inactive, the more time your plants have to get established and get ready to be fully functional when spring comes.

What Insects do in the Winter

In winter, many insects go into a hibernation mode called diapause. During this time of dormancy, growth, activities, and development are temporarily suspended. Their metabolic rate is just high enough to keep the insect alive. Insects survive the cold in a variety of ways which include relying on body heat and dry shelters in their surroundings such as underground, in trees, under rocks, and in logs. Even snow can help insulate insects.

Can Cold Temperatures Kill Insects and Weeds?

Insects can tolerate a range of temperatures as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 97 degrees. Their hibernation mode kicks in between 55-75 degrees and 91-96 degrees. Temperatures below 50 and higher than 97 degrees Fahrenheit can be lethal to insects. Insects are also more likely to die with sudden fluctuations in temperature. In extreme cold and hot temperatures, insects will stop developing and eating.

Most insects go into “hibernation mode” at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, though some insects will experience this at 50 degrees F.

Weeds, on the other hand, may not be affected by the cold weather. Weeds complete a full lifecycle from maturity to reproducing new seeds in a single season. Some weeds bloom in the spring and mature in the summer. These weeds include grass burs, crabgrass, and dallisgrass. They will produce new seeds and die in the fall. Other weeds mature in the winter and die off in the summer. This includes rye, rescuegrass, dandelions, henbit, and Poa Annua. If you have the former type of weed, the cold, winter weather can postpone the seeds germination, making them easier to destroy.

It is not always the product of landscaping mistakes that is the culprit of plant disease and destruction. Insect infestations and disease in the spring and summer are not always the result of poor winterization. The damage you see in spring and summer can be the workings of a mild winter that is kind to weeds, insects, and disease.

Let EarthWorks Help Keep Destructive Weeds and Insects at Bay

Mother Nature can throw you a curveball with a mild or severe winter. At EarthWorks, our two-step weed control process attacks weeds before they come out of dormancy in the spring and cuts them back over the summer and fall. EarthWorks offers pest control solutions and a wide range of other services to make your commercial landscape healthy and beautiful. Whether it’s a mild or cold winter, EarthWorks is here to help with your commercial landscaping needs. Schedule an appointment with us today to let us help your plants get a healthy start for spring.


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