You don’t need to be a Game of Thrones fan to know that winter is coming. Anyone who’s stepped outside recently is sure to have noticed the shorter days and lower temperatures quickly rolling in, and before we know it we’ll be waking up to frosty roads and gardens each morning!
Most people are aware of the precautions and safety measures they can take to deal with wintery conditions on the road during this time of the year, protecting our gardens from the effects of winter is somewhat less common knowledge. Icy conditions can harm flowers, plants and bulbs, and without adequate precaution can ruin your garden before spring arrives. That’s why in this post, we’ll be bringing you a list of helpful tips and suggestions to help you protect your flowers and plants during the coldest time of the year!
Dealing With Sensitive Plants
The first protective measure you should take on the run-up to winter is to take all of your container plants that are tropical or sensitive to the cold into the house. This will significantly minimise the damage these plants incur during the winter months, and the plants won’t have to start over growing nearly as much next season. It’s important to know that most tropical plants are in potential danger at around 45 degrees or under, and if left in temperatures below this point the plant may become too damaged to survive.
Water Retaining Plants
Sensitive plants that are remaining outdoors should be regularly and thoroughly watered, especially around 24 hours before freezing temperatures are set to arrive. Water creates an insulating moisture that fills tissue inside the plants, bolstering their defences against winter temperatures. If you don’t manage to water the plants in time before your garden is frozen, wait until temperatures rise and then water, just make sure to move on with other protective steps.
Give Extra Attention Where Needed
When it comes to winter garden care, certain plants will need more care than others. For instance, freshly-planted perennials and shrubs require additional attention during winter as they do not have suitably established root systems. This is a perfect example of where using mulch is key. Mulch is perfect for insulating underdeveloped or newly placed plants. Hardwood mulches are typically the most effective with any insulating organic matter such as pine straw or cedar will do. While the majority of plants will have a protective layer throughout the year, it’s always best to add a protective layer of mulch to ensure the survival of each plant. 2 or 3 inches of mulch is generally ideal to protect most plants.
Use Frost Cloths
There are specialist ‘winter cloth’ products available that can offer significant defence against the freezing temperatures that winter brings. These cloths are lightweight and flexible, allowing you to cover plants and insulate them, giving extra protection of up to 8 degrees. You may even consider doubling up the cloth as this can often ensure that even the most sensitive of specimens are protected, regardless of how harsh the weather.
These items come with special staples to clamp the cloths in place, this will help prevent the harsh winter winds blowing the frost cloths away. If you opt to use one of these products, be sure to leave some air space above the plant as additional insulation, rather than pinning the frost cloth tightly down on top of the plants. For more information please check out the Horticultural Fleece wikipedia page.
Protecting Colour Plants
Many annual colour plants do enjoy cool weather however, they can quickly become sensitive and suffer damage if temperatures drop too low. Examples of plants in this category include dianthus, snapdragons, and Iceland poppies. While plants such as these can easily survive light frosts, they do benefit from covering when gardens start to freeze over more heavily and acting now will allow your plants to repay you once the spring and summer months are upon us. Simply put: preserve your plants with Frost cloths!
Other delicate flowers such as primroses and cyclamen also require protection during winter. Once temperatures drop beneath 30 degrees, damage can occur quickly and ruin the flower (which are otherwise quite long-lasting).
So there we have our 5 top tips to help boost protection against the cold temperatures this winter. For those of you who are looking to give their garden an even bigger boost, be sure to enquire about our fantastic range of composite decking options and services!