Frost and wind are the biggest problems facing plants during the winter. Frosts will freeze any water contained within the plants cells, which will then rupture as the plant warms up in the sun. When the ground is frozen it is impossible for the plant to access water. The wind can dry out evergreen plants as they struggle to find water in frozen ground. The wind can also introduce a wind chill factor to the already cold temperatures.
If your plants are small enough to lift or are in pots, they should be moved to a frost free environment or a sheltered part of the garden. If plants cannot be moved, fleece and cloches are very effective at providing frost protection for your plants.
Protecting palms and cordylines from frost
Palms and cordylines will tolerate cold temperatures, but their crowns and trunk are particularly susceptible to frost damage due to their high water content. Cordylines can also suffer from attacks of bacterial slime flux during harsh winters.
The crown of cordylines can be protected by gathering up the leaves and wrapping them with horticultural fleece. The leaves will try to fan out forcing the fleece to create a protected pocket of air around the vulnerable crown. The trunk can be protected by wrapping horticultural fleece loosely over the length of the trunk. Wrapping the fleece loosely will create air gaps which add an extra layer of insulation. Whenever horticultural fleece is used, it needs to be tied in place with rope or pegged in place as the wind can get underneath the fleece and blow it of the plant.
Most tree ferns can be lifted and stored indoors in a bucket of compost. If they are too large to move the crown, they will need to be covered with garden fleece. Leaving the old leaves in place will help trap air for insulation, and we usually cover the delicate new frongs with straw.
Protecting fruit trees from frost
Nectarine and fig trees will struggle in freezing weather. These can be protected by wrapping fleece around the crown of the tree and tying in place with rope. Wrapping the horticultural fleece in this way will trap air around the crown which is warmed through the day by the sun, keeping the crown a couple of degrees warmer than if it wasn’t protected.
Ideally, frost fleece should not touch the foliage directly. Anchor the edges of the fleece down with pegs to keep the warmth radiated by the soil from escaping.
Give one of our Gardening Angels a call 0845 602 3774 or send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about caring for your plants throughout the winter and protecting them against frost.