How to protect plants in winter

Do it:

Dec, Jan, Feb

Takes just:

15 minutes

Tender perennials, specimen trees and container-grown plants can all fall prey to frost, snow and heavy rain during winter. By following our simple guide, you can help your plants survive even the harshest conditions, and prolong the harvest of your edible crops.

You will need

Bubble wrap

Horticultural fleece

Plastic or fleece cloches

Broom

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Take a broom and knock snow off plants, before it freezes. This prevents sagging and broken branches under the weight of the snow. Be sure to knock snow off hedges and specimen trees and shrubs, as well as mound-forming evergreens such as hebe, which all suffer irreparable damage from heavy snowfall.

Protect greenhouse plants by lining the greenhouse with bubble wrap and consider using a paraffin heater to keep your most tender plants warm. You can create partitions within the greenhouse by making 'curtains' using bubble wrap or horticultural fleece. Simply hang them from the roof and ensure they reach the ground, then seal the edges with tape. This will create smaller spaces to heat within the greenhouse, saving you money on heating bills.

On the vegetable patch, protect carrots, parsnips and other root crops with a blanket of straw, to stop the ground freezing around them. This will enable you to continue to harvest them when required. Place cloches over salad plants, or sow fresh seed in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse.

Move tender succulents, including aeoniums, aloes and echeverias,into a frost-free location in full sun, such as a heated greenhouse, conservatory or south-facing windowsill. Most succulents enter a rest period in winter, so make sure you allow the compost to dry out between waterings.

Avoid walking on grass in winter, particularly when frost or snow blankets the lawn. If you do step on it, you’ll notice that your footprints linger, as frozen grass blades break underfoot. Walking on frozen ground may also lead to compaction of the soil, increasing drainage problems and potentially encouraging the onset of fungal diseases.

Wrap large pots in hessian sacking or bubble wrap. Tie it securely in place and leave it there throughout winter. If you have large potted plants, wrap the container with a thick layer of insulation, to stop the roots freezing.

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