Protect your plants this winter

editorial image

A LOT of gardeners will have replaced plants that they lost in last years severe frosts, so it makes sense to offer any that are susceptible to frosts some protection this winter. Cordylines were one of the main victims and will succumb to severe low temperatures but the main danger is when the centre of the plant gets cold and wet quickly bringing about its demise. To avoid any problems tie the leaves together and wrap the whole plant in some horticultural fleece and leave in place over winter.

Raise patio containers on bricks to prevent then sitting in water over winter. Any specimen plants that you have outside in pots makes their roots prone to freezing, so if you cannot bring them indoors wrap some hessian cloth around the pot even if the plant is hardy. Any root system exposed above ground, albeit in a pot, is very vulnerable, any wrapping around the pot will also help to protect it from possible cracking. Red hot pokers (kniphofia) will benefit from a good mulch around the base of the plant to protect the roots from very cold weather

Other plants that will benefit from this treatment include agapanthus and alstroemerias. On young kniphofia plants gather up the leaves and tie them quite firmly. This will protect the crown of the plant, so if the foliage is damaged by hard frosts the crown should be unaffected. Wait for the first frosts to hit your dahlia tubers before lifting, drying and putting into storage. If you decide to leave them in the ground cover the crown with thick bed of straw.

Once a pond is frozen over it traps methane gas that is released from rotting vegetation which can be deadly to fish. To avoid this install a water heater or put a float in the pond such as an inflatable ball (or a piece of polystyrene) this will absorb pressure from the ice in case the pond freezes. If the pond does freeze, melt the ice by placing a hot pan on the surface, never break it.

November is the traditional time to plant tulips thus reducing the risk of them getting the fungal disease, tulip fire, (this fungus will cause the plants to rot and not to develop properly, and shoots can emerge malformed). Plant them about six inches apart and it is normally recommended to plant them two or three times their own depth, I have always planted mine at least ten inches deep and have never been bothered with any disease. Shallow planting is also a common cause of them not flowering the second year.

Put grease bands around fruit trees, they should be placed about eighteen inches above soil level and left in place until April, not forgetting any supporting stakes. These bands will prevent the winter moth crawling up the tree to lay its eggs. If left the moths eggs will hatch out and the resulting ‘looper’ caterpillars will cause damage to plants that can be seen in March to early April. Apple, pear, plum and cherry are the usual trees to protect but many ornamental trees are also attacked including roses.

The Lazy Gardener

Jobs this Week

Sow broad beans for an early crop

Sow sweet peas there is no need to soak them first

Stake Brussels sprouts

Sharpen secateurs

Dead head chrysanthemums

Order bare-root plants