Protect plants from frost

If you are one of my readers who are preparing for Winter, then here are some tips to protect your plants from the frost!

It is getting mighty cold here in Zurich, and I’m not actually preparing my garden for winter because my balcony is very tiny. But if you are someone with a large garden then I’m sure you will benefit from my suggestions!

Frost can cause the water in plants to freeze, which breaks down the cell walls. The result can be a browned, soggy or scorched appearance and if tender, the plant may die. Early spring frosts can kill new growth and reduce fruit crops. Snow is often less damaging because it acts as an insulator, but tender plants still require protection from it.

Which plants need to be protected? 

Tender shrubs such as bay, pittosporum, myrtle and tree fern. Tender perennials such as dahlia, pennstemon, and agapanthus. Tender climbers – passion flower, evergreen shrubs container plants, fruits and vegetables.

When to do it?

October or November or wait until frost is forecast. Fruiting plants with the exception of figs, which do not need to be covered until they begin to produce blossom buds in early spring.

Attractive protection

Hessian looks rustic, so makes a pleasing wrap for shrubs. Hazel stick teepees are smart too: pack the plant with straw, then wrap hessian around the teepee. Alternatively, coil bundles of a lengthy grass around it. Tender perennials can be cut back and covered with straw over which a wooden cloche is placed. (a cloche is a small translucent cover)

Tender shrubs

Pad the main branches with straw secured by netting or string, then encase the whole plant in insulating material (hessian and biodegradable fleece are eco friendly) During rainy spells, cover with plastic, remove when dry, to prevent the plant from sweating and rotting)

Evergreen shrubs

Apply mulch around the base of the plan

Hardy shrubs and trees

Gently shake the snow off weak branches so they do not snap

Tender perennials

If large, wrap in hessian, cover small plants with a dry mulch. If the plant has woody stems, place a hat of wire netting over the plant and sit the mulch atop this, to prevent rotting. Hardy perennials can still be bitten by frost. Wait until spring to cut them back, as the years growth provides protection.

Tender climbers

Insulate the base of the plant with fleece or hessian

Container plants 

Move to a sheltered spot and swathe in bubble wrap, put small pots in a cold frame.

Fruit 

In early spring, fruiting small trees and bushes require a shield of fleece or hessian on nights when frost is forecast. Remove during the day so pollinators can reach the blossom. Young vegetable plants and strawberries need the protection or waterproof cloches or a ploy tunnel in early spring. Remove in mild weather to prevent rotting.

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