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Winter protection by plant type

Il est préférable d'utiliser une protection hivernale adaptée au type de végétaux
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Lise Servant)
Fraxinus americana

Deciduous trees

Young deciduous trees with tender bark, like linden, beech, maple, ash, willow and horsechestnut, are susceptible to frost cracking, which splits the trunk’s bark vertically. This means that a trunk guard should be installed for the first few winters after planting.

Trunks in the line of snow shot from a snowblower can be protected with wooden slats held together with metal or plastic straps. The protection should be removed in early spring so as not to prevent the trunk from expanding.

Perforated plastic trunk coil guards or wire mesh can be installed to prevent rodents from gnawing on tree bark over the winter.

Conifers and shrubs that retain their leaves

New plantings and any plants apt to be hit by falling snow or buffeted by prevailing winds can be given basic winter protection. You can use a plastic tarp to protect them from salt spray. Leave the base of the plant bare to ensure good ventilation.

Polystyrene rose cones are easier to install and are a good alternative for young plants and dwarf conifers. For dwarf conifers, the cone must have air holes.

You can use protective netting to wrap conifers and prevent them from opening up under the weight of heavy snow or freezing rain.

Deciduous shrubs

Deciduous shrubs near the limits of their hardiness zone, like hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla), require basic winter protection to protect them from the winter cold and desiccation. Be careful not to damage the flower buds at the tips of the stems.

Polystyrene cones are useful for young and dwarf plants.

Shrubs that could be crushed by snow or freezing rain can be wrapped in protective netting or tied up with jute twine.


Roses that are hardy in your area do not need winter protection. The roots of young plants should be protected with a good layer of mulch, however.

Hybrid teas, polyanthas, floribundas, grandifloras and miniature roses are not hardy in Quebec and therefore need protection. For more information on protecting these roses, see the winter protection for roses section.

Climbing plants

Most woody species are hardy, but some such as wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) don’t do well in Quebec winters. They should be given the same protection as non-hardy climbing roses.


Plants that are perennial here do not require any winter protection. Just allow their stems and leaves to dry out and clean them up in spring. Any diseased stems and leaves must be removed, however.

Cover perennials with a layer of organic mulch or evergreen branches if they aren’t naturally cold hardy, or if they are growing in a very windy spot where they won’t get much snow cover. Remove the protection once the ground thaws in spring.


Hedges subject to salt spray, deicing salt and breakage from snow-clearing operations should be protected. It is a good idea to wrap the exposed portion in a plastic-coated tarp.

As a precautionary measure, it is best to water the foliage and soil after removing the tarp in spring, to remove any salt that may have accumulated over the winter.

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