No Country for Cold Plants: Beat the Winter Frost

Monday, 1 October 2018 11:44:44 Europe/London

Cold weather is upon the UK - gardeners beware! As a gardening enthusiast, you know to wait until the next growing season to resume growing, however, there are a few simple tasks you can still do to help your winter plants. You’ll need to make sure your plants can withstand the colder temperatures, rain, ice, and snow so they are healthier and more vigorous in spring.

Keeping this is mind, we’ve compiled a few steps you can take now to provide your garden with effective frost protection.

Leaf with frost

Be Kind to the Local Wildlife

Support wildlife through winter and help a diverse group of little creatures to survive and thrive. Make sure to provide bird houses for shelter and food, regularly adding feed so that birds don’t waste vital energy when there is no food when they visit. Choose foodstuffs that have a high fat content to help keep them warm in winter and mix them with grain mix or nuts so they have a balanced diet.

Provide a sheltered insect hotel for the wide variety of species that visit your garden, particularly overwintering lacewings and ladybirds. Make sure to check bonfires before lighting them, as they’re typically used by frogs, hedgehogs, and toads for shelter and hibernation. Similarly, compost heaps often contain small animals due to the heat produced so be careful when turning them.

A shallow water dish at ground level will help a wide variety of animals to safely drink and not drown. Keep an eye for nesting season around late winter; birds are ready to start nesting in spring, so give bird houses a clean. Overwintering insects will also thank you for healthy, unpruned hollow-stemmed and herbaceous plants that they can use as shelter. 

Cover Fragile Plants

A garden fleece will help to protect foliage, buds, and tender plants from snow and frost. This prevents the water in plant cells from freezing. Plants and shrubs can have fleeces simply draped over them and trees do well with fleece wrapped around them. Providing 35gsm of insulating protection against frost, our garden fleeces gave double the thickness of the standard gardening fleece to offer extra protection.

They also protect plants from fluctuating temperatures during March and April. Seeds grow very quickly around these months but temperature drops stop growth. You can keep your plants warm and growing at a steady place. There’s an added benefit by diffusing strong sunlight, preventing scorching, and providing shade.

Tidy Garden Borders

Remove dead foliage, weeds, and leaves to tidy up your garden borders. Perennials’ spent stems and lawn edges can be clipped but deciduous grasses should be left until late February. Their foliage will add extra protection to the plant’s crown during winter.

Compost bins should be emptied so that the old and well-rotted material can be spread over fresh soil. This will help to set it for spring and to provide your garden with a presentable look during winter. Make bigger borders so that plants can have the space they need, making sure to cut back herbaceous perennials at the borders.

These plants begin to die down and droop close to the ground, alongside annuals that have finished their lifecycle. Most importantly, use your imagination and tidy up garden borders in a pleasing way that considers your plants’ health.

Feed and Protect the Soil

Spread dead leaves or a layer of mulch on the topsoil before it freezes. This will help to protect your plants over winter from low temperatures that freeze the ground. Mulch also provides protection against snow, rain, and ice, as it prevents them from leeching the nutrients and washing away the topsoil.

Add a layer approximately three or four inches thick so that plants can still breathe and bloom properly. Areas with high winter precipitation need to take extra precautions to protect garden plants, so make sure to beat the cold weather before it has a chance of destroying your garden.

You can also add compost to your soil and dig it into your garden when turning the soil. Don’t use it as mulch - you want the compost to help the roots with its nutrients. Slowly work compost into the soil for plants already in your garden or add a small amount when adding new plants. The use of both compost and mulch will help plants to grow properly, to improve the soil, and to cut down on weeds.

Plant Early-Flowering Bulbs

Daffodils, tulips, and irises are a few early-flowering bulbs that you can plant in autumn. Make sure that you plant them before the ground freezes so that they can bloom in the spring. The majority of early-flowering bulbs need to freeze over winter so they can grow in spring.

You can recreate this effect by storing them in the freezer but you still have time to plant them now. Some perennials can also be planted in the winter, thriving due to low temperatures and drier soils. Onions and garlic are good vegetable options to plant in autumn and harvest months later when the new year starts.

Gardening needs can fluctuate according to the plants you choose for your garden, so make sure to browse our website to find the tools you need. You can also contact us to enquire about our wide range of products.

 

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