Protecting your plants from the frost

Protecting your plants from cold freezing weather is a must during the Winter months. We have been lucky this year with a fairly mild October and November however with the recent frost and sudden drop in temperature it is necessary that precautions should be taken. During the dormant season many plants may succumb to frost or cold weather and roots can become rotten. It is therefore vital to protect your plants before the frost arrives to ensure a good display next year.

The degree to which you protect your plants is dependent on where you live. In sheltered city gardens it is possible that you may not require any protection at all. However if you live in the countryside and your garden is exposed you are going to require more protection.

General Protection

For general protection of your plants apply a layer of mulch around 6cm deep in the beds and borders of your garden. You could opt for bark or decorative mulches such as slate chippings or gravel. Around the plants themselves you should use grit this will stop moisture from collecting and prevent the roots from rotting. The mulch will help to keep your plants warm and insulated during the frost.

If you use mulch such as bark this is able to break down during Winter adding nutrients to your soil as well as improving drainage. When mulching your plants you may wish to take cuttings as a backup in case plants do not survive the Winter. Check out our mulching guide for further advice on how to mulch your plants.

Protecting Tree Ferns

Tree ferns in sheltered areas may only require a packing of straw over the crown and some protection from the rain however in colder areas tree ferns will require complete wrapping. Use straw and wire to protect the tree fern wrapping the straw around the base of the trunk. Use wire around the rest of the trunk ensuring you leave enough space to pack with straw. Using straw to wrap your trunk allows enough ventilation however also ensures it keeps warm.

Leave the fronds on the crown as they are able to offer further protection. Do not worry if they start to turn brown as these can be cut off during next season. If you feel the plant needs more protection you can pack the crown with straw.

Protecting Tropical Plants

Tropical plants such as banana plants must be protected during Winter. To protect the plants begin by removing all leaves and anything else so that you are left with the trunk. Place wooden stakes around your plant and push them firmly into the ground so that they are able to withstand strong winds. Make sure when placing the wooden stakes in the ground you leave enough room for a layer of straw to be added around the trunk of the plant.

You should then wrap a willow fencing roll around the stakes and secure this with string. You should repeat this process until the height of the trunk has been protected by the willow fencing roll. Any gaps that are left between the fencing roll and the trunk should be packed with straw.

Protecting Succulent Plants

Succulent plants are not able to withstand any frost at all therefore require careful protection. You should transfer them into grit to stop the roots from rotting when the plants go into their dormancy stage. Store your succulent plants in a greenhouse, pick the most sheltered area ensuring they are fully protected. You should make sure that you ventilate the plants on a regular basis by opening up the greenhouse to stop the moisture from building up.

Protecting Alpine and Rockery Plants

Alpine and rockery plants can be protected individually. You should protect alpine or rockery plants with a piece of plastic over the top, this will shelter them from rain and wind. Build some bricks so the plastic is able to be supported and ensure it is secure and will not blow away. To protect a whole bed or rockery you should build a frame and place a large piece of plastic over the top. Leave the sides of the frame uncovered so that the plants are able to get some ventilation.

We hope this article has offered some tips on how to protect your plants. For further advice we also have a video on how to protect your plants. We also have some inspirational ideas on our pinboard.