The onset of Winter can present our garden plants with some of the most challenging conditions they face. Our native plants are, of course, adapted to cope with these conditions but many of our more recent garden additions may just need a little help!
Plants such as cordyline, phormium, olive and bay trees have taken well-deserved places in a great many of our gardens. Offering striking form or foliage (or both), these plants are often used to create drama and focal points, and they are particularly popular in pots and containers which maximises their flexibility and use around the garden.
All of these plants originate from areas of the world which experience cool, dry winters – and so they are most vulnerable during our Winter when they can be easily damaged by cold temperatures, cold wind and/or too much water.
The good news is that protecting these plants from one or two of these factors will give them a much better chance of surviving the Winter season.
Fleecing – offers protection from both cold temperatures and cold wind.
Wrapping a plant in fleece traps a layer of air around it – this air remains a degree or two higher than the ambient temperature which helps to keep your plant warm – it also keeps cold winds off of the leaves, protecting them from wind-scorch.
Plants should remain snug in their fleeces during the Winter months of December, January and February – and can be unwrapped again once daylight length becomes appreciably longer, around the end of February.
Fleece is available both ‘off the roll’ which is great for wrapping tall, thinner plants, and also as fleece ‘bags’, available in a variety of shapes and sizes, which are particularly useful for bushier plants and small trees.
Below Marcus shows us how to protect an olive tree using a fleece bag and a cordyline using a fleece wrap.
Let’s start with the olive…
First measure the diameter of your tree to ensure that you have the correct size fleece bag.
Then take your fleece bag and gently place it over your tree head.
Once the top is covered, gently work your bag slowly and carefully over the whole plant head and down the stem.
Then secure with the drawstring at the bottom – and your plant is protected!
Now for the cordyline…
First measure the size of your plant to determine how much fleece you will need for height and width when wrapping.
Then tie the plant foliage up from the base using soft, natural twine so as not to damage the leaves. It’s often much easier to do this if you have help to draw the leaves in, but whatever you do, don’t use elastic bands as these will ‘cut’ into the plant over Winter, causing damage.
Continue gathering and tying in leaves up to the top of the plant, making sure that you don’t tie too tightly so that there is space for any growth.
Now carefully wrap the whole plant in fleece – not too tightly and not too loosely – to a thickness of 1-2 inches.
Finally secure the fleece in place at the top and down the length of your plant with more soft twine, making sure to leave enough space at the bottom for watering – and another plant is protected!
Pot awareness – offers protection from cold temperatures and excessive water.
Pots made of terracotta take pride of place on many of our patios – but did you know that an area of patio larger than 9ft square will effectively ‘channel’ cold into anything which sits on it, including your pots!
Raising your pots onto pot feet not only protects them from cold but also ensures the best drainage possible which will keep your compost and therefore your plant roots much drier. Drier compost will also reduce the expansion of water when it freezes into ice, which will also help prevent your pots from cracking too.
One last precaution you can take is to move your pots so that they are against a wall or a fence as these offer your plant their residual warmth and also protect them from excessive water.
We stock fleece on the roll, and handy fleece bags and jackets in a variety of sizes – so pop in SOON to pick up all the supplies you need – and make sure your vulnerable plants are as cosy in the garden as you are in your house!