How does winter affect you

How plants survive winter

Have you ever thought about how plants survive the cold season? Here you can find out which tricks nature has come up with so that our native plants can survive in snow and ice

Plants can't just take their roots and go somewhere that's warmer. But what do you do when it gets cold outside and it starts to snow? Nature has come up with special tricks that plants can use to defy winter.

A built-in frost protection

In the Antarctic, mosses and grasses can survive at minus 80 degrees Celsius. Blue-green algae swim around in salt lakes at minus 14 degrees Celsius. Only at minus 20 degrees Celsius does it get too cold for the algae. They lapse into a kind of paralysis, whereby the metabolism is reduced to zero.

The reason for this record-breaking survivability is a self-made antifreeze that the plants can turn on and off.

Plants consist of many individual cells. So that the water in these cells does not freeze in winter, plants form their own antifreeze - for example sugar. Not in the crystal form, of course, as we know it at home. The energy stored in summer from water and minerals is converted into so-called amino acids and sugar. This solution prevents the water from freezing.

The creation of the frost protection takes at least 24 hours. The plant must therefore begin to develop frost protection in good time. She freezes to death in a sudden cold snap.

Life underground

When it snows, it's time to warm up again, pull out the sled and start snowball fights. But what is a sign of the cold for us is a "warming blanket of snow" for plants. At zero degrees Celsius, when the snow falls, the ground under the snow cover thaws. The plants can then absorb some water again.

Because not all plants survive the winter on the earth's surface. Flowers like tulips and crocuses wither and all parts of the plant that are above the ground die. The energy they collect in summer is stored in the underground tubers and flower bulbs.

The snowdrop is the first flower to bloom as early as February. It spends the winter asleep underground. But with the first rays of the sun, the flower bulb comes to life. The snowdrop comes with its green tips through the frozen ground and the remaining snow cover.

Why trees are bare in winter

Do you know how the hazelnut survives the winter? The small nut does not grow in the ground, but hangs on the bush like a berry. When there is frost, the soils are frozen in winter. So the shrub cannot absorb water through its roots. As clever as the hazelnut bush is, it pulls all the water out of the leaves in autumn and discards them as unnecessary ballast.

An autumnal spectacle for us - a protection for the hazelnut. The vital coloring and nutrients overwinter in the buds - for almost half a year. Other trees and shrubs also have to survive this for a long time without leaves and without generating energy.

As you know, there are also trees that do not shed their leaves: the conifers. That is why they are called evergreen trees. You have surely pricked yourselves on the Christmas tree and noticed that the needles are really sharp and hard, especially on the spruce. The needles have a firm epidermis.

The water does not evaporate as easily and remains as a reserve for the winter, but a very sunny winter can be a problem for conifers. Too much sun pulls the water out of the needles. If the ground is frozen, no new water can be drawn from the ground. The result: the conifer threatens to dry out.

As you can see, plants are armed against the cold winter with these natural survival strategies. So we can quietly retreat to our warm apartments and be sure that the plants and trees on our doorstep will bloom again in the same place next year.