Protecting plants from the winter weather
Last month I talked about keeping plants in pots happy over the winter – definitely one of the first jobs to do . But for many of us a little bit of winter protection is in order for many plants, even if they are growing in open ground.
Which plants need protecting from the winter cold?
*Anything sold as not fully hardy will be at risk of damage from winter cold.
*Anything which is newly purchased or has been planted during or since this last autumn may also succumb as, even if hardy in theory, many plants are kept very cosseted so that they look gorgeous when we see them for sale. The problem is that they may then not be fully hardened off when we buy them and life in the real world can prove to be a bit of a shock!
*Anything which has been fed excessively or too late in the season (eg after mid-summer). These are likely to have put on some late growth which may not have had a chance to harden off properly before the cold weather hits.
How to protect my plants from the cold?
Temporary coverings with fleece or fleece jackets (these come in various sizes and are fitted with a nifty draw-string so are very easy to use) are the easiest way to provide a few degrees of frost protection to just about anything. Remember to ensure the fleece is well anchored and that the plant is fully enclosed. If you choose higher quality fleece (at least 35g/m2) it will be less likely to get torn and will work out better value as it lasts so much longer.
For wall shrubs you can either use fleece or create a ‘cage’ of chicken mesh over the plant and then loosely stuff it with dry bracken or dry leaves.
For herbaceous perennials a thick mulch of bark chippings works well, just mound it over the crown of the plant, having checked for slugs and snails first!
….and whatever you do, don’t wrap plants in polythene as this will create damp, muggy conditions with very restricted air circulation…and often disastrous, soggy symptoms when you release the plant in the spring!