London (change)
Today 12°C / 7°C
Tomorrow 12°C / 12°C

How to protect tender plants over winter

You will need

  • Secateurs
  • Bamboo canes
  • String
  • Horticultural fleece or bubble polythene
  • Straw
  • Chicken wire
  • Large flower pot or crate
  • Bark chippings
Do it: mid-October - early December
Takes just: 20 minutes per plant


Protect your plants from the cold weather and wrap half-hardy bananas, palms, cannas and ginger lilies in fleece and straw if they grow in sheltered positions. Alternatively lift the plants, then pot or crate them up and bring into a frost-free greenhouse or conservatory to plant outdoors again next season.

How to do it

Tying palm leaves together to protect crown


Protect palms by tying in the leaves to protect the growing point. In cold regions this can be loosely packed with straw for extra insulation.

Protective tent of fleece around palm


Push bamboo canes into the ground around the plant to be protected, and cover with horticultural fleece or bubble polythene to create a protective tent. Use string to secure it to the canes.

Strawing around stem of banana plant


Protect the stems of banana plants with straw, packed loosely into a sleeve of chicken wire placed around the plant. Cover the top with polythene in wet weather to keep the straw dry.

Packing canna rhizomes into crate


In all but the mildest locations, cut back the stems of cannas and ginger lilies and lift the rhizomes from the soil. Set them in large pots or crates and pack round the roots with chipped bark. Store in a frost-free shed over winter.

Our tip

In the north and east of the UK you may need to protect your plants from late-October, while in the south and west, it won't be necessary until mid-November.

Discuss this project

Talkback: How to protect tender plants over winter
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

Gordon McPherson 18/10/2012 at 19:13

I like Adam's tip for differentiating between the regions of the country - albeit, if only for protecting plants. I usually have to add or deduct at least a month at each end of the growing seasons in other publications which concentrate mainly on below The Wash - just like the old weather forecasts!! Further North never seemed to exist! I do follow the recommendation for protecting fragile plants - only 2 months earlier. Thanks again, Adam.

Pam Cox 19/10/2012 at 16:28

I have a himalayan honeysuckle and I wonder if it will O/K in the winter or should I cut it back a bit as it is abouut 5ft to 6ft tall thanks Pippen

Lilylouise 19/10/2012 at 19:25

I live in the southeast and we cut our Leycesteria formosa back in early Spring

Pam LL x

Zoomer44 19/10/2012 at 19:46

I tried growing a couple of tender plants one year. They did well during the summer but I wasn't sure about fleecing over winter, whether once covered, you left them all winter till the following spring or took the fleece off on warmer days. I also wasn't sure whether to dig them up and put in the GH.

In the end I tied both up, covered them in fleece and dug one up, to spend the winter in the GH. One was uncovered early spring but both died, they rotted in the centre, it was a particularly cold winter in 2010 but I haven't tried growing anything tender since then.     

Maggie jones 13/11/2013 at 09:01

I have a container olive, bay, myrtle and blueberry trees.
I spent last winter rewrapping them every few days after the wind unwound the horticultural fleece. No amount of pinning and string would stop this.

This year brain wave.. I got the sewing machine out and made giant fleece bags which just I popped over the top of the plant and secured round the base.

Question. I live in village Suffolk and the plants are sheltered near the house how many layers of fleece, and therefore bags, per plant to protect from frost?M

See more comments...