How do plants survive the winter?

Once the plants are installed outdoors, they cannot protect themselves from the cold and cannot find a place sheltered from bad weather. Some plants then developed complex strategies to see next spring. Here are plant strategies for surviving the winter.

Strategies by group

There are 6 biological groups and each applies a strategy depending on the type of plant. The phanerophytes in which we find trees and shrubs retain their expression in all seasons, even in winter. Perennials belonging to the chamaephyte group are less than 30 cm tall and close to the ground. Other plants, such as peony, belong to the hemicryptophyte group. They have buds in low ground in winter but high stems in summer.

Onions belong to the group of cryptophytes. The bulbs are then invisible during the winter season. There is also a group where plants die as winter approaches: this is a group of terophytes. Just before they die, they produce seeds that will withstand the cold and germinate in the spring.

Finally, the last group consists of plants that have no roots in the ground, such as lichens, but that withstand very little cold.

plants with winter autumn leaves
Authors: IrisImages / iStock

The case of the trees

In trees, the process that causes them to lose their leaves reduces their energy needs. In fact, without the leaves, their need for water decreases and the juice then concentrates on the trunk, large branches and roots. Because the evergreen leaves of the trees are smaller and thicker (sometimes glazed), they protect themselves from the cold.

Transition period

You should know that plants that experience the cold of winter do not have a hot-cold space. The transition takes place over a period of time. The plant detects the shortest days as well as temperature drops. These signs then make it move on to winter. For this reason, sudden frosts in September can kill plants, while frosts in December are not affected. This same transition occurs, but vice versa during the spring.