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Frost fight

3 May 2022

The race is on to protect our favourite heat-loving plants from winter’s chill. Words Diana Noonan

High-altitude temperatures are already dipping to zero overnight, and southern regions won’t be far behind. In warmer parts of the country, the chill is just a few weeks away. So it’s time to consider the different ways you can get set to protect and pamper your plants and keep them warm through winter. Whether it’s with the help of a greenhouse or a cloche, don’t let the cold months stop you growing!

Shifting home

Plants in pots are mobile, and most can be moved to more protected sites over winter – but watch your back with the heavier ones. To lighten the load in the future, plants with relatively shallow root systems can be grown in pots that have been half-filled with pieces of polystyrene or upended plastic plant pots before the growing mix is piled in on top.

Winter homes for non-hardy potted plants can include anywhere that is sheltered from frost, strong winds and heavy rain. Under the eaves of the house (especially the sunny side) works well. If the house has concrete or brick foundations, all the better as this material will heat up during the day and radiate the warmth back at night. The overhanging branches of trees can provide protection against frost, as do nooks at the base of evergreen hedges.

Going up

If you’re lucky enough to own a greenhouse, your moveable plants can be housed under-cover for the
winter. To maximise space, use multilayered shelving. While plants require stepped shelving during the
active growing season in order to have equal access to light, in the winter months this isn’t so necessary so you can build your own. Use bricks and wide planks to create shelves, or even old bookcases sourced from the recycling centre – but whatever you decide on, be sure to anchor it firmly in place to avoid it toppling and damaging the greenhouse.

Read the full story in our May issue – on shelves now.
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