We’re still eight days away from the Winter Solstice, but step outside today and you’ll know that winter is here. As I write this, the temperature is hovering right at freezing; add in the windchill and it feels more like the upper teens or low 20s!

The good news is that we’re supposed to have sun for the next few days; the bad news is that it’s supposed to stay cold–well below freezing–for several days. Cold temperatures like these can be very hard on any potted plants that you still have outdoors, so here are a few tips for gardeners:

First, if you have any potted plants still outside (many people have potted topiaries by their front door or in front of their garage), take note of their exposure to the wind. Particularly if the plants are exposed to the northeast wind, you will want to consider relocating them to a more sheltered area.

Second, move any exposed plants into your garage for the duration of the freezing temperatures. Don’t have a garage? Move your pots under your eaves or into a sheltered corner next to your house. Moving plants next to your house can increase the temperature by 10 degrees or more.

Third, mulch around the surface of your pots to provide some insulation. For added benefit, wrap pots with old blankets to further protect the roots from freezing.

Follow these steps and you’ll minimize or prevent any winter damage to your plants caused by freezing temperatures. And when you’re finished moving and insulating your plants, be sure to get a cup of hot chocolate for yourself–you’ll need it to warm up!