Caring for Your Garden During Frost
When cold weather arrives, we automatically take measures to keep ourselves safe and warm. We wear extra layers of clothing, put on the heating or light a fire, de-ice the car and – if it gets really cold – stay inside as much as possible. The living plant life in our garden can be just as vulnerable as we are. Each has its own degree of hardiness; the extent it will tolerate very cold weather without damage. While extremely hardy plants will endure temperatures well below freezing, if you have tender plants they will need to be protected during periods of frost to avoid serious damage.
OverwinteringBefore the first sign of frost – often in late autumn – tender plants should either be cut back, lifted and stored indoors or left outside under a layer of mulch. If you wait until frost arrives to do this, it will likely be too late. Plants to lift and store are those tender, herbaceous perennials that are able to survive winter in a dormant state, such as Dahlias, Cannas and Gladioli.
Winter WrappingSome tender plants are not suitable for lifting and storing. This includes tender climbers, some shrubs like Pittosporum tobira, fruit bushes and tree ferns. For these larger species, wrapping in specifically designed horticultural fleece will help protect from damage. The advantage of this material is that it allows the plant to breath at the same time as offering protection, whereas more solid material such as polythene can gather condensation underneath and compound the problem. The heavy-duty fleece material is also easy to fit and secure and, once the season is over, can be washed and reused.
Just moving your tender plants into your greenhouse is unlikely to give them the protection they need in event of severe cold. By heating your greenhouse, you can help keep them in peak condition through winter – but, this can be a costly option. One cost effective form of greenhouse heating is specially designed bubble insulation. By clipping a layer to the inside of your greenhouse frame, you can reduce the risk of frost damage to your plants and also cut your greenhouse heating bills. It is also worth having a good heating system in place in your greenhouse. An electric heater will help move air around your greenhouse, avoiding existence of cold spots.
There are other areas of your garden as well as plants that need some care during cold. To prevent garden taps freezing over, we recommend insulated tap protectors. Finally, keep your paths and driveway safe by having some de-icing salt stored away, ready to sprinkle over any persistent icy patches.