Most garden plants can survive the winter without problems but others need a little bit of extra help. Frost can damage and even kill tender plants, while excess water causes rot and cold winter winds can harm the foliage.
Preparing ahead of time, before the frost appears will make sure that you don’t loose your favorite plants.
Protect the Soil
Leaving soil exposed risks depleting the beneficial life contained within it. A layer of organic material such as well-rotted compost or manure, spread 1-2in (3-5cm) deep is thick enough to keep soil life fed and protect the soil itself from erosion.
Where possible, potted plants should be brought inside but this is not always possible. To prevent their roots from freezing, wrap hessian sacking around plant pots and tie it firmly so it can stay there all winter. You may need more than one layer with straw in between for extra insulation on larger pots. For the tops of the plants, place frost protection covers over the branches.
If you have a vegetable patch, straw can be used on it to prevent the ground from freezing around your vegetables. Mulch can be placed on top of the soil at the base of any plants in your garden to insulate the roots. Place cloches over root crops such as carrots and parsnips. Some plants like strawberries and roses can be completely covered by mulch over winter to keep them insulated. Using straw or mulch on and around flowerbeds and ensuring the beds are raised can help to protect them from frost and heavy rain too.
Plastic Bottle Protection
Don’t forget the many homemade options for cold weather protection. Clear plastic bottles, cut in half, are great for fitting over individual small plants, either outside or as an added layer of warmth inside the greenhouse.
If you have delicate or tropical plants, such as succulents, the best place for them over winter is indoors. They’ll still need access to heated sunlight, however, perhaps in a greenhouse or conservatory. Make sure they’re not touching window glass as that can transfer cold outside temperatures to the plant. Succulents tend to go into a rest period during winter so ensure the soil dries out fully between watering.
If you’ve got palm trees in your garden, protect them from the worst of the weather by tying the leaves up towards the centre to protect the growing point at the base of the leaves. If it’s particularly cold, you can pack this area with straw to provide an extra level of insulation.
Use a Windbreak
You can protect plants vulnerable to cold and frost with an enclosure made from windbreak netting and/or bubblewrap lined with garden fleece. Not-so-hardy wall shrubs can be insulated from the cold by spreading a sheet of fine-mesh netting over the plants and stuffing it with insulating material, such as straw or even dry leaves.
Or, for quick and easy protection, cover the plants with a double layer of well secured garden fleece. Wherever possible, don’t allow the fleece to come into direct contact with the foliage, hold it away from the leaves using supporting canes or other structures.