Before winter really bites, prepare your garden for the chill with these top tips to protect your patch and keep plants snug
Insulate your greenhouse: If you’re storing borderline-hardy plants in your greenhouse over winter they may need some extra protection. Use bubble wrap as a layer of insulation as it will raise the temperature inside your greenhouse by a degree or two. Attach to the inside of your greenhouse using special clips available from garden centres online. A bubble wrap layer can also be used, along with a heater, to create a warm section of a greenhouse, rather than heating the whole space. And see Nick Bailey’s article on page 27 for advice on how you can protect your plants in style.
TIP: Invest in a thermometer to measure the temperature inside your greenhouse.
Protect dahlias: In milder parts of the UK you shouldn’t need to lift dahlias, but they’ll benefit from a deep mulch of compost topped with a layer of chipped bark. If you do lift them, cut back stems to about 10cm (4in) and carefully lift tubers. Brush away any soil and store somewhere frost-free for two weeks to allow tubers to dry out. Then place in crates or large plastic trays filled with compost or sand. Store in a frost-free spot until spring.
TIP Form a mound with your mulch so that excess rainwater runs off.
Wrap up exotics: Tender exotics, such as some callistemons, agapanthus and tree ferns, need protection from the weather. If they’re growing in pots they can be moved somewhere warmer. For those growing in the ground, you’ll need to either cover them with a blanket of fleece or wrap them up. Create a ‘cage’ around the plants using chicken wire, then pack straw around the plant. To protect plants such as cordylines, gather together the strappy leaves of plants vertically and tie in place with soft twine or a pair of tights so the leaves aren’t damaged.
TIP Ready-made fleece plant jackets come fitted with zips or drawstrings for ease of use.
Group pots together: Move containers to a sheltered spot next to a wall of your house, where it’ll be slightly warmer. Gather them closely together to create a micro-climate, and help stop them blowing over in strong winds. If you want to give them extra protection, wrap a section of hessian or bubble wrap around your pot collection, and put fleece over the top if necessary. This is much easier than wrapping individual pots. Raise pots off the ground with pot feet available from garden centres.
TIP Remove fleece during the day so plants are exposed to light and air.