Now that the evenings are getting darker and the temperatures are starting to drop it’s time to protect your garden from the plant damaging winter that lies ahead. Cold weather and frost and the biggest garden destroyers during the winter months, cold weather can causes the water in the plant cells to freeze which subsequently damages the cell wall. It is easy to spot a frost-bitten plant as their growth become limp, blackened and distorted. Evergreen will often turn brown and the leaves of tender plants will take on a more translucent appearance after experiencing cold and frosty conditions. Problems caused by frost can be exacerbated when plants face the morning sun, as this causes the plants to defrost too quickly, rupturing their cell walls.
Even hardy plants and tough evergreen can suffer when open to prolonged spells of severe cold and when the soil becomes frozen. When the soil becomes frozen roots are unable to take up water and as a result the plants will die from lack of moisture. Frost not only attacks during the winter months, bouts of frosty wearing during April and May can also kill blossom and damage fruit.
Top 5 Ways To Minimise The Risk Of Frost Damage
- Plant tender plants in a sheltered area, under large trees and shrubs or against walls as these will protect such specimens during the winter.
- Avoid using nitrogen-rich fertilisers as they encourage leafy growth with high sap content which is particularly susceptible to damage during the winter months so avoid using towards the end of the year and at the beginning of the year.
- Avoid planting plants with tender flower buds or shoots in an east-facing site.
- Do not prune the old growth of tender plants over the winter months. The old growth will help in protecting the central crown of the plants and take the brunt of any frost damage. Pruning tender plants during the autumn increases the chance of any new growth getting damaged by frost.
- Avoid planting tender plants in the lowest point of your garden as the cold air and frost will always descend to the lowest point in a garden.
Top 3 Ways To Protect Your Plants During Winter
- Wall-trained plants or tender plants growing in open ground should be protected with a fleece-covered frame or a homemade alternative, using bracken leaves or straw sandwiched between two sections of chicken wire can be used to cover plants during frosty spells. Tender bulbs, herbaceous plants and corms will need to be covered with a thick mulch of manure, straw or old leaves to prevent the soil from freezing.
- Any tender plants that are grown in pots should be moved into your greenhouse during the winter months, try to take cuttings of any tender plants that cannot be transferred inside and overwinter these plants in your greenhouse so that they are ready to plant during spring.
- Protecting your evergreen plants with a thick layer of mulch around their bases will help keep the soil frost-free allowing them to take up moisture during the periods of cold weather.