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What Wind Chill Means for Plants

Wind chill is how cold the air “feels” outside, based on wind speed and the current temperature. For example, the outdoor temperature may be 40˚F but with the wind speed factored in, it may feel like it is 32˚ outside.

snowy garden

When it comes to our plants left out in our gardens, wind chill alone should not have any real effect. Plants respond to the actual ambient air temperature, rather than how cold it feels to humans and animals. So if the wind chill is 32˚F but the temperature is 40, the plants behave according to that 40˚ temperature.

With that being said, the wind speed may affect plants—especially in the colder months. Winds can dry out stems and foliage and result in damage. During the colder months of winter, the air is already relatively dry, which often lessens the amount of moisture within the soil and stems of plants. Mixing the already dry air with a dehydrating wind can cause damage.

To help lock in moisture and protect your plants for the cold, dry air during the winter season, you can add a thick layer of mulch around your plants and/or wrap your plants in a burlap covering. The latter holds especially true for evergreens.


Read what trees and shrubs are susceptible to various kinds of winter injury and how to protect them.

Learn about anti-dessicant sprays here.

Click here for a great tip to make protecting shrubs easier.

Expecting lots of snow during the winter season? Learn a great way to protect your shrubs here.

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The Smart Gardening Series: Weather and Science is a great guide perfect for helping any gardener learn more about the weather and how to keep his/her garden healthy.

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