Love or hate the frost, for your garden plants and trees it can reek havoc on your plants. Frost injures plants when water in the plant cells turn into ice crystals, which then disrupts the movement of fluids and damages plant tissues.
Here are my top tips for your garden this winter.
It won’t do any harm practicing a bit of vigilance and having a plan at the ready which can make a huge difference in protecting your delicate plants from the cold this winter. Look out for signs of frost damage which can include blackened, distorted or limp growth and leaves turning brown on evergreen plants and shrubs.
Most plants will need protecting from temperatures of 30°F (-2°C) or lower, but frost tender specimens should be protected before temperatures dip this low. I always recommend getting ready when temperatures start to fall below 32°F (0°C).
What’s important is to know the difference between your Hardy Plants and your tender ones. Hardy plants can typically withstand a short spell of frost, those plants include clematis, honeysuckle, heuchera, euphorbia, hydrangeas, buddleja, rhododendrons and some rose varieties.
Bear in mind if temps hit below -2 tender plants are not able to withstand the frost and therefore need extra attention, those plants typically Include fuschia, dahlias, pelargoniums, tree ferns, canna lilies, begonias and some succulents.
Potted plants are much more susceptible to root damage in colder temperatures so it might be an idea to move your hanging baskets and potted plants indoors. Choose a place that’s not too warm, ideal places being in your garage, shed, or basement.
Watering plants in the afternoon keeping the soil moist can help protect plants from the cold, moist soil has an insulating effect.
Mulch is perfect for your flower beds, adding a layer of mulch to your garden beds will help protect the soil from sudden swings in temperature. Use straw, wood chips, leaf mold, or even just a heap of leaves to provide crucial insulation for the plants’ root systems below ground. It’s ideal to leave a small hole around the central stalks in order to allow the plants to breathe. Remember when the weather gets warmer you will need to pull away the mulch again.
At Neil’s Gardens we like to promote the use of organic matter such as well rotted horse manure as it has a lot of great nutrients for the soil which lasts all year and provides moisture for the ground during the frosty weather.
A fleece protector - one method – which is useful for larger garden plants and shrubs – is to cover them with horticultural fleece. You could also use blankets or bubble wrap, to create a protective cover. You can also wrap the trunks of young trees with horticultural fleece or blankets. Place several stakes around your plants and then cover these with the chosen material to create a tent-like structure. Weigh down the corners to prevent the coverings from blowing away in the night and remove the covers during the day.
I often get asked if you can use plastic bags to cover plants but It is not advisable. Not only is it not very eco friendly or sustainable, the plastic can actually damage your plants if it makes contact with foliage, as it holds water against the plant and causes more damage from freezing.
Choosing the right plants for your garden is essential and knowing where to create the ideal planting positions carefully to avoid ‘frost pockets can be a minefield. So why not contact us for more info on the best low maintenance plants for all seasons.
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