Protecting your plants in winter

As the cold weather, approaches do not forget to provide some protection for those cold fearing plants that are not that hardy, so that they can survive the coming winter. If not they, might not reappear next spring or even if they do, they may be considerably weaker.

Protecting your plants in winter

Sheltered or dormant

To ensure that a delicate plant survives the winter you must make it go into a dormant state. If it still continues to have vegetation then it will be more sensitive to the cold. For those that loose their stems in winter it is simple: simply protect the soil where the plant is. For the others which keep there leaves (these are known as evergreen) it is more complicated. The protection must allow enough light to pass through so that the leaves do not perish. It is impossible to keep them in the dark for several consecutive months and hope that a plant can keep its green leaves!

Plant Frost Protection

The banana tree

The Japanese banana tree (Musa basjoo) can be forced into a dormant state. After the first frosts, which will shrivel the leaves, you need to cut the trunk down and cover it with an insulating material (dead leaves, hay, straw etc.) Hold all this together by covering it with a winter horticultural fleece, which is held, in place with rocks or staples, the banana tree will remain dormant for several months and can survive temperatures as low -20°C!

Protecting your plants in winter

Palm trees and olive trees

These are part of the group of plants that are unsuitable to be covered by a pile of dead leaves so they must be prepared in a different way. Start off by covering the soil around the tree with straw this will protect the roots. Try to get the straw to go up the length of the trunk as far as possible. As you cannot cover, the branches with an opaque material try to wrap layers of horticultural winter fleece around them. If the palm trees are small, stretch the fleece over some supports around them: this will trap a layer of air next to them, which will act as insulation just like the dead leaves, do. This method of protection is less efficient than using dead leaves but will allow you to gain a few precious degrees around your cold fearing plants!

Protecting your plants in winter

Put on another layer

Do not forget to protect the stem of sensitive plants, even if they are reasonably hardy. Roses with grafted stems are more delicate than rose bushes. Moreover, even if they are hardy, plants like the box and other topiary plants with stems still fear those glacial winter winds, which can harm them. Wrap them up in a double layer of horticultural winter fleece (there is no need to cover the soil). Attach the fleece b wrapping twine around the trunk several times making sure it is strong enough not to blow off in the wind.

The arrival of spring!

Think about airing these protective covers when the end of winter is approaching. It only needs a few mild days to make the temperature under these covers become tropical! This will cause the plant to start growing and producing leaves even though the last frosts have not passed. Open up the cover in the morning and shut it in the evening. It may be a pain to do but it is worth it so those delicate plants can start the season off early.

M. Jean-Michel GROULT
Pépinières PLANFOR
RD 651
Tel : (020).7660.0178
Fax : 0033 558 064 854