Winter is coming and with it come gardeners, fretting over frostbitten plants and damaged crops. Fear not, ladies and gentlemen – let’s introduce you to our extensive guide on how to protect plants from freezing and the best ways to store them during winter.
How Frost Affects Plants
Tender plants are the ones mostly threatened by negative temperatures. Water expands when frozen – and liquids inside the stems of the plant obey the same physics rules. The plant will suffer a gruesome damage beyond fixing, bursting into pieces. However, different plants react in a variety of ways. Some perennials with strong roots survive through winter, albeit the damaged foliage. Others, such as summer vegetables and annuals, spring blooming shrubs and trees, tropical plants and potted plants won’t make it that easy.
Here are the steps you should take to protect plants from frost:
- Bring the plants indoors – nothing will work as good as bringing your tender plants inside where it’s warm and dry. Get the bulbs in as well – dig them out, transfer them to a container and store them indoors.
- Supply enough water – more water before the frost comes will help your plants avoid demise.
- Take care of sprouts – you will need to lay a thick blanket of mulch on top of them or use a flower pot to cover the tender sprouts. If the temperatures rise during the day, it will be okay to uncover them.
- Cover larger plants – use bubble wrap, fabric or old sheets to cover larger shrubs and trees completely from the top to the ground. You need to do a tight package since most of the heat is coming from the ground and if the fabric reaches it, it will trap it inside the bubble. When the temperature rises, again, you should uncover the sheets.
- Damage control – if frost is coming, don’t use any fertilisers to speed up plant growth – you need to avoid tender plants being exposed to cold. Container gardening and sheet wrapping are arguably your best choices – more on them later on. If parts of your shrubs and trees get damaged, branches for that matter, you can wait until they start growing. Then you can easily access how much damage they have taken and only cut out the dead parts.
How to protect plants from frost with fleece
Swathe pots in bubble wrap
Despite that having a greenhouse is a robust protection against cold, you still have many other palpable ways of ensuring the longevity of your vulnerable plants. And one of them is insulation. Even concrete containers can’t protect the plants fully inside – the materials cracks and frost slowly reaches the roots. Therefore, it is necessary to wrap the whole container together with the plant in bubble-wrap.
Cover the top of the plants with gardening fleece
Even though most of the shrubs and trees growing in our climate zone are hardy, it won’t hurt to be extra careful, as far as frost is concerned.
For exotic trees, such as pomegranates, olives and palms, you need to keep all parts of the plant insulated. Warmer temperatures in autumn or early spring can be a mixed blessing, too. Even conventional northern crops, such as cherries, can also bloom early and get a damaging frostbite.
- Put on gloves – you don’t want to injure yourself;
- Pull up the tree branches – you may probably need assistance, based on the size of the tree crown;
- Tie them up with twine;
- Wrap the branches with horticultural fleece;
- Tie up the coat to secure it;
- Step back and marvel at your tree, ready to face the frostbites daringly;
How to Protect Plants from Frost Through Cultivation
Very often the reasons for plant frost are rooted in improper gardening techniques – untimely fertilising, missing out on dealing with garden pests or insufficient watering. Here are a couple of horticultural tricks to fend off frost:
- Feed plants timely. Avoid fertilising and watering during the second half of the autumn and the summer seasons, so that you don’t stimulate early bud growth.
- Water properly. Another bright idea is to keep the soil around the plant, especially around orchard trees and shrubs, moisturised by watering it more often. It will hold the temperature at a lower degree and will prevent the plants from early blooming. Apart from keeping the root system cool, the water will maintain the air around the plant a touch cooler.
- Cover the soil. You can use mulch or manure, to reduce erosion, air exposure and nutrient loss.
- Choose the right planting spot. Your garden is a battle plan. You have to spread your units, being the plants, in the right places, so that they receive the optimal amount of nutrients and sunlight they need, without getting damaged by external conditions. Sunlight gets reflected by south-facing walls which means that area will be warmer, as opposed to north-looking sides. Early morning sunlight shouldn’t get to early blooming plants – the thawed snow can blacken their buds.
- Plant shrubs to break the wind current. If your garden is in a windy place, planting hedges around will reduce the chance of your plants get damaged by air outbursts. However, by the time hedges grow big enough to protect them, you can also use netting or any other hand-made materials, placed on stable posts. In addition to new structures, check out any loose parts of fences or panels. Go for the ones that allow some wind to pass through – you will avoid any unpleasant noises, turbulence and wind gust.
How to Protect Plants from Winter Rain
Winter rain can be a nightmare for potted plants since moisture can quickly build up on the bottom of the containers. Subsequently, roots are deprived of oxygen and die off. Here’s how to up the game of your containers:
- Get yourself a pot with holes for drainage at the bottom;
- Use the proper compost – get a well-drained one, so you don’t start at a disadvantage;
- Raise the pots on a platform – you can buy those at any garden convenience store – they will lift the container around 3 cm above the floor. Not only moisture will drain, but also the air circulation around the pot will improve.
How to protect plants from frost in a greenhouse
- Fill containers with water to absorb sunlight during the day and reduce chance of frostbite in the evenings;
- Insulate walls with bubble wrap or horticultural fleece to trap the heat in;
- Add more light sources – grow lights will do a good job;
- Don’t overdo the walls with bubble wraps – you don’t want to block the sunlight completely;
- Additional heat sources may raise costs over plant value – consider them out of the picture, when it comes to greenhouses;
- Don’t spare on water when it comes to greenhouse watering – the plants inside usually need much more than normal. Check if the soil is still dry at around 2.5 cm depth – if yes, then you should water more.
Hopefully, now you are all set to rock it in your garden during these troubled times of cold. Remember, you can always count on us to take care of your greenery and book a garden maintenance service. It may be cold outside, but your plants don’t necessarily have to look so, too.
Check out our ‘Winter garden’ collection here:
How to Add Colour to Your Winter Garden
How to Select the Perfect Real Christmas Tree
How to Prepare a House for Winter
How to Decorate a Garden for Christmas
12 Popular Christmas Plants
Replant, Reuse, Recycle – 3 Responsible Ways to Dispose of Your Christmas Tree
10 Blooming Flowers for your Winter Garden