Protect your tender plants

There’s definitely been a drop in temperature these last few days and it reminds us that winter is on the way. Autumn can be very mixed, but a sudden cold snap can create havoc on your tender plants. Tender plants are often plants that come from warmer climes aren’t used to frost and will likely die off if not protected.  It’s important to keep an eye on the forecast, especially frost, and take appropriate measures to protect your plants accordingly. If you’re not sure if a plant is hardy, check its country of origin and that will give you a clear idea.

Many of us have big containers of tender plants sitting outside during the winter so make sure you cover these with a horticultural fleece to protect them. Don’t put a plastic bag over them as the plastic can hold on to the moisture and doesn’t let the air flow round them. This creates a fungi that will finish them off! You can cover terracotta and ceramic pots with bubble wrap as this will ensure they don’t fracture in the cold. But try to move pots closer to the house to shelter them.

Ideally, you should overwinter plants indoors, in a frost-free greenhouse or frame.

  • The plants will still need watered but keep it to a minimum. Too much water will make the roots soggy and start to rot.
  • If you see any pests, you’ll need to eliminate them as soon as possible!
  • Remove any faded leaves and cut off any dying stems.
  • Don’t worry about feeding the plants during the winter as they can use the nutrients at this time of year.
  • Make sure there is good air circulation round them.
  • Keep an eye on the temperature – you need to make sure night temperature is high enough to deal with any frosts.

We have a few tender favourites amongst the team that can be overwintered;

Osteospermums – these bright border daisies will cope with a mild winter but it’s safer to overwinter. Just op the cuttings in modular trays in the greenhouse.

Fuchsias – there two types of fuchsia – the hardy and the not so hardy! If you have a tender fuchsia, cut it back, pot it up and place in the greenhouse. You can then take cuttings in early spring which can be planted in May when there is little chance of frost. (Although in Scotland you never know!)

Dahlias – a particular favourite of our colleague Colin.  You can dig up the tubers after the first frost to store until the spring or you can overwinter them outside under a thick layer of compost mulch. Come late winter, you can poot up tubers and take cuttings from the shoots that emerge.

If you have any questions, please do get in touch, we’d be delighted to help!