How Do Plants Survive Extreme Cold?

It’s the middle of winter, and temperatures are plummeting below zero. This is common for a Minnesota winter, after all. However, as a homeowner, you probably wonder how the animals and plants can survive this unbearable cold? Many animals hibernate underground or fly south during the winter because their food sources are scarce. Vegetation, such as leaves and flowers, don’t exist. But how is it that these plants can spring up next season, despite the unlivable conditions?

Trees And Shrubs Become Dormant

As the cold sets and the sun shines less, plants will begin to “harden. The water is pumped out of their plant cells and into the roots or sap. It is a sugar solution that acts as an antifreeze for the plant. For example, oak and maple trees shed their leaves every fall to reduce water loss. Evergreen trees have their needles to protect from water loss. Plants are also able to modify their life cycles with the changing seasons and can readapt to temperature changes.

Some Plants Are Incredibly Durable

While they shed their leaves, trees and shrubs do not die. Herbaceous plants that live for two or more years also act similarly to trees and shrubs, these plants are known as perennials. For the rest of winter, these plants store their energy in their roots. Wildflowers live off the food they store and sprout once the weather begins to warm up.

Some Plants Rely On Their Seeds

Not all plants work in the same way as trees and shrubs do. Some plants can only survive during their growing season, dying around fall time. While the plant may die, they make many seeds that will sprout in time for Spring. These are annual plants. The roots of these plants die, but their seeds will endure. Many seeds rely on the cold weather for germination, but you may need to purchase new seeds if the temperature is too extreme in your area.

Just like animals and humans, plants have developed ways to adapt to the cold weather. From small flowers to towering trees, plants are magnificent in their ability to withstand some of the harshest conditions.

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