Monday, 24 July 2017

Protect Your Garden from Winter Frost


A simple how-to guide to help you protect your plants from winter frosts and chilly temperatures, because lets be honest winter will be here before we know it sadly!

One of the biggest worries of any gardener is the frosts and freezes that winter can bring. A sudden drop in temperature can kill seedlings, young plants and the most established of plants. 

Frost and freezes don’t just affect plants either. If you don’t store your rattan garden furniture inside, it too can be damaged or weakened by frost – unless of course, you cover it up so the rain, snow, ice and frosts can permeate its fibres.

Thankfully, there are many things you can do to stop the freeze and frosts from getting at your plants.

Protecting plants from frost or freeze damage

You probably know from your freezer that placing things in it uncovered leads to ice crystals forming on the product or materials which causes it to ‘burn’. This burn damages the material, which is escalated when it thaws.  What was once a tasty dish and how now lost its flavour, with a hard crust too.

The same happens to plants when the temperatures tumble. When frost is predicted – keep an eye on local weather forecasts or download one of the many amazing weather apps online – protect vulnerable plants. These plants include;

· Houseplant or tropical plants
· Spring-blooming shrubs and trees, such as rhododendron and cherry
· Citrus trees
· Bulbs such as dahlias find frost and freezes difficult too
· Summer season veg including tomatoes and peppers
· Summer flowering plants such as geraniums and petunias will also struggle

Steps to take

These are some hint and tips that expert gardeners suggest:

· Non-movable shrubs – for some established shrubs, the frosts and winter freezes may not be deadly but they can damage new growth, especially in later spring frosts. Grab some old blankets and throw them over shrubs to protect new tender growth. The idea is to keep the frost or ice from touching the surface of any leaves. Once the morning dawns and the sun shines through, remove the blanket or old bed sheet so that the sap can rise.

· Move indoors – for potted plants and shrubs, moving them indoors helps them to weather the winter or when frosts are expected. This can be into the greenhouse, the garage, the conservatory or a porch.

· Bulbs – frost can permeate the top layer of soil and for your prized dahlias and other tubers and bulbs, this can be bad news. If frost and winter freezes are predicted, to save losing your spring bulbs simply dig them up and store in a pot in a cool, dry place. Add plenty of bulb fertiliser so when they are back in the ground in spring, they give a lovely show for the spring and summer months.

· Water plants – it can seem counter intuitive but watering plants thoroughly before ‘big freeze’ helps the plant to overcome the cold temperatures. It stops desiccation, or extreme dryness, caused by cold temperatures. Follow these guidelines on how to water trees and shrubs before the freeze to give them the best chances of survival.

· Upturned bucket or pot – if you have some tender shoots just poking through the soil, you won’t be too keen on lifting them at this point and disturbing the young plant and its tender root system. Prevent frost burn by placing an upturned bucket or plant pot over the top.

Not all damage means a dead plant

There are times that no matter what you do or how vigilant you are with weather forecasts; a night time frost can be upon us without us realising. Exposed shrubs, plants and trees will soon exhibit signs of frost damage, especially on new shoots.

But this doesn’t mean that all plants will simply keel over and die. You may lose a few vulnerable and frost-sensitive plants but hardy plants, shrubs and trees will survive, even if their new growth has been somewhat stunted but a frost or freeze.

Plan and plant prevention

The best way to avoid running around the garden removing frost-bitten plants or throwing blankets over shrubs is to plan your garden and buy plants that are ideal for your climate.

In the UK, northern counties tend to suffer more from tumbling temperatures than the more temperate southern counties. Landlocked areas will also have more frosts, freezes and possibly snow, whereas coastal town and city gardens are rarely at the mercy of severe frosts, freezes and snow.

But buying plants that work well in your part of the world helps to minimise expensive losses due to frost and ice. And don’t forget your rattan garden furniture – protect it from frost, wind, rain and sun for it to give you year on year of fantastic performance.

Rattan Direct love the garden and what it offers, no matter what the season. Enjoy the summer sun with outdoor furniture made from a sustainable, environmentally friendly material rattan – and enjoy the other three seasons too!

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