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How to keep your plants alive during winter


There are lots of preparations you will want to start to be making now autumn is here.  Purchasing a cover to protect your wooden garden seat is one such choice.  The other is protecting your plants from dying back in the inclement weather to come.  Whether you purchase something to stop plant pots blowing over or something to protect them from the effects of frost – the preparation might feel endless.  Here we offer a quick guide exploring how to keep your plants alive during winter.

A frost and rain-free environment

With shorter days, little light and the sudden drops in temperature, the winter can be too much of a challenge for most of our beloved plants.  If you have exotic plants or those that just not so hardy, then survival through these colder months can only be guaranteed indoors, or in your greenhouse.  A fuchsia, for instance, can survive and thrive through the winter in the right conditions but will soon die off outdoors.

If you do bring your plants into the greenhouse, you should only water them occasionally.  Although you should not let the compost dry out completely, it should be almost dry.  If you over water, you could risk your plants or its roots rotting.  When spring is approaching, you should begin to water them more often and feed them with liquid fertilizer.  This preparation will move your plants out of dormancy, and they will start to grow again, ready to go outdoors and enjoy the spring and summer.

No greenhouse – what then?

The ideal scenario is to move these plants indoors.  If you do not have a greenhouse, maybe there is a utility room that could work to overwinter your more vulnerable plants. You possibly could use your shed or other outdoor buildings.  However, if this space indoors is just not an option, there are still choices you can make to keep your plants alive outside.

First, you can wrap the pots in bubble wrap or a natural hessian.  This will prevent frost from penetrating through the container and damaging the root system of the plant.  Alternatively, you can wrap the plants in horticultural fleece.  This fleece can help tender plants remain safe from the impact of wind and frost.  If the plants are particularly vulnerable, you may also want to add straw inside the fleece to give that extra insulation.

If you are worried your plant pots may struggle in the storms that flow through, then using twine stops pots blowing over in the wind.

Plants that need more care than others

Certain plants require more attention than others during the winter months.  If you have a Mediterranean feel to your garden, then you are going to be doing a lot more preparation for the cold, wind and rain than others.  If your garden includes bananas, palms, cordyline, succulents and cacti, then you are going to be quite busy right now.

Your most significant task will be protecting banana plants, especially Musa Basjoo, which has strong roots but tender stems that are easily damaged.  Therefore, cutting off the bigger leaves and wrapping each stem in horticultural fleece is a must.  You may even want to stuff straw into the fleece.

For palms, straw is your best insulator.  Use hessian to wrap the palm up and then fill up with straw.  Most palms could survive the winter without this treatment; however, if it is a harsh season, they may not.  It is better to be safe, especially if the palm is exposed to north or north-easterly winds.

What you need to buy

That is a lot of advice and a lot of preparation.  So, to help you on your trip to your local garden centre, here is the list of items you might want to consider buying.

  1. Greenhouse: the ideal solution is a greenhouse. Although an expensive option, if you bring your less hardy plants into this indoor space with its controlled environment, all other care is reduced.  You can ensure that even the most tropical flower can last through the cold and wet of winter.
  2. Bubble wrap/ hessian/ horticultural fleece: these are relatively cheap materials that can insulate your plants from the worst of the weather.
  3. Bale of straw: essential for insulating your exotic plants
  4. Plant pots: to move plants from your beds, borders, or another area to somewhere where they can shelter through the storms
  5. Garden tools: you will need a variety of garden tools for replanting, cutting, etc.
Anna Sharples

Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches - a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.

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