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Winter Protection for your plants

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Over wintering your Plants.

Plant Protection in Winter:-
        Around September or October, depending on where you live, you should be thinking of protecting your plants for the winter. During this period many plants succumb to frost, cold or excessively wet soil. The most common approach for protecting plants in planters outside is to wrap them with some kind of  insulation. Any insulating material should do the trick. The goal of overwintering most hardy perennials is to prevent them from getting too cold, not to keep them warm.
       For general protection of your garden apply a layer of bark compost or mulch 5cm (2in) deep around herbaceous perennials but use grit around the plants themselves. This will stop moisture collecting and rotting the stems while the mulch will keep them warm. By rotting down over the winter months the bark will also be adding organic matter to the soil.
     Tender herbaceous perennials that can be lifted and stored include dahlias, cannas, tuberous begonias and gladioli. All these plants have fleshy tubers, rhizomes (underground stems) or corms that can survive in a dormant state when lifted and stored.


Plant  bare-rooted  roses: Soak the roots in water  for an hour. Cut out damaged growth and remove  crossing stems. Dig a hole wide enough  to hold  the roots and deep  enough  for the bud union  to be 2.5cm  below ground  level.  Add compost and a handful of blood, fish and bone.  Set the plant in the hole and spread  out the roots. Refill the hole and firmthe soil to remove air pockets. Finish this job by early winter, or before  the ground becomes too cold.
Plan for next year:  Order  seed catalogues  so that when the weather is not suitable for going out into the garden, you can make up a list of crops to purchase  for sowing in the new year.
Winter-prune  wall shrubs: Shape  evergreen  shrubs, such as flowering quinces  or pyracanthus,  to keep them flat against  a wall. Prune  out any outward-facing shoots and those growing towards the wall. Remove  unwanted stems at their point of origin. Space  out the other shoots, pulling them down horizontally  and tying them in. Prune  back the longest stems by two or three buds  to keep the shrub balanced.
Sow seeds in the greenhouse: Start sowing seeds  in mid-winter if you can provide sufficient  warmth for germination,  and a well-lit position to put the seedlings in afterwards.  Make sure that
the glass  is clean  to let in plenty of light. Wait until later on in the winter to seeds  of bedding  plants and planter plants.
Clear away snow: Don't let snow weigh down conifer branches. Brush it off immediately or tie the  branches together with twine to preserve the plants shape.
        Limit frost damage:  Firm in newly  planted trees and shrubs loosened  by frost.
Renovate :
       deciduous climbers and hedges:  Hard prune old and congested  shrubs while they are dormant. Mulch heavily  afterwards.
Protect tender :
       wall shrubs: Place fleece over climbers  if very cold weather is forecast.
Trees and Shrubs in Winter
Prune  established trees and shrubs: 
          In frost-free  weather, prune dead,  damaged  and diseased branches.  Cut back to healthy wood.
Stop colour  reversion: 
          Cut out totally  green  or yellow  reverted shoots  on variegated evergreen shrubs.
Reduce shade  over  borders: 
          Prune  deciduous  trees whose long branches  overhang herbaceous  borders.
Propagate  shrubs: 
          Take  root cuttings  of clerodendrum, aralias and Rhus typhina.
Lawns and ponds in winter
Treat turf against  leather-jackets : 
        The larvae of crane flies can create  unsightly  brown patches  in newly  laid lawns. Deter the adults from laying  eggs by double digging the soil to improve  drainage.
Continue to mow  occasionally:
        Set the mower  blades  at high, and mow only if growth demands  it. 
Protect the grass: 
         Constant walking  over a lawn during the winter when the soil is waterlogged  causes compaction  and impedes drainage. Avoid walking across the lawn by the same route  every  day. Alternatively, build sunken stepping stones or a path.
Clean  and overhaul  machinery:
         Clean  and oil all moveable parts before storing  under a waterproof cover or in a shed. Empty  the fuel tanks of petrol-driven  lawnmowers.
Protect  ponds from freezing over:  Place an inflated ball on the surface  to absorb expansion that could  damage pond walls.
Melt pond  ice: 
         Place  containers of boiling water  on the surface of frozen ice to melt  it slowly.
Lift or protect  winter  crops: 
       In the north, lift and store swedes and turnips. In the south, where temperatures are milder, earth up the plants  for protection. Clear away annual  herbs  from beds  and planters.
Harvest winter vegetables when ready: 
       These include Brussels sprouts, winter cabbages, cauliflowers, leeks and parsnips.
Protect  Mediterranean  herbs: In colder  gardens,  protect marjoram and rosemary with straw, leaf-mould  or shredded forest bark.
Feed all fruit trees:  Top-dress wall-trained trees with well-rotted manure.
Prune newly  planted  apple and pear trees:  Reduce  leading shoots  by up to two-thirds.
Flowers and bulbs in winter
Winter maintenance:  Finish tidying beds and borders. Check stored tubers. Firm  the soil around plants loosened by frost  Remove  air pockets by firming the soil with your feet.
Encourage  early flowering: Place cloches  over Christmas roses  to bring them on quickly.  This  will also protect the flowers  from mud splashes.
Create  bushy seedlings:  Pinch out the growing tips of sweet- pea seedlings  when three pairs of leaves  have  developed.  This will encourage  further side shoots  to grow.
Protect  winter  baskets:  Move hanging baskets  into a Porch or greenhouse  when severe frosts are forecast.
Plant  up early colour:  Cram window  boxes  and planters with winter pansies and ornamental  cabbages.
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