Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Plants ‘need protecting in the winter’

With winter around the corner – and the harsh climate conditions that it typically brings with it – gardeners will need to start giving some serious thought to preparing for their plants.

Whatever lies in store, protecting plants is important so as to ensure that they emerge unscathed and ready for the spring.

Celebrated landscape architect Bunny Guinness told the UK national newspaper the Daily Telegraph that a good rule of thumb is to hope for the best while planning for the worst.

Mark Diacono, who runs the climate change centre Otter Farm, recently told the same publication that there are plenty of other tasks to be getting on with for those who wish to prime their green spaces to make the most of next year.

He explained that the best course of action is to think of some of the various ways in which gardens can be prepared for conditions that are less than perfect.

Ms Guinness said that many gardeners try using leaves, straw or bark as insulators to keep the roots of their plants warm. This can pay off huge dividends, as any excess mulch can be removed in the spring if necessary.

She added that taking cuttings of all bedding and tender plants in the fall can also be a very good idea – citing salvias, pelargoniums, plectranthus, brugmansias and abutilons as examples of varieties that can particularly benefit from this course of action.

These particular plants do not take up as much space as some of the larger ones, but as they are more vigorous they tend to be able to survive much lower temperatures.

When it comes to greenhouse care, Ms Guinness said that it can be wise to ensure that the door is opened quite often when it gets sunny, as the temperature can escalate pretty quickly.

In terms of specific plants, she said that cannas need to be lifted very early after frosts, as this will keep as much soil on their roots as is possible.

"Then I put in crates/bags in a frost-free greenhouse or shed, keeping them only just moist," she remarked.

"I do the same with dahlias, but pot up the plants properly, I find this better than drying them off like most people do," Ms Guinness continued, adding: "Many leave them out all winter but mine get munched by slugs and are very late to come back to life."