Green Fingers I Wish

Monday, January 05, 2009

Winter Effects on the Garden

Cold weather and particularly frost, causes the water in plant cells to freeze, damaging the cell wall. Frost-damaged plants are easy to spot, their growth becomes limp, blackened and distorted. Evergreen plants often turn brown and the leaves of tender plants take on a translucent appearance. Frost problems are often made worse where plants face the morning sun, as this causes them to defrost quickly, rupturing their cell walls.

Prevention is far better than cure, so try to minimise the damaging effects of cold on your plants:

1. Avoid golden or variegated plant varieties that are often more tender.
2. Choose plants that are reliably hardy in the area where you live.
3. Avoid high-nitrogen fertilisers as they encourage plants to make lots of sappy leafy growth that is particularly susceptible to damage, especially early and late in the year.
4. Make sure tender specimens are planted in a sheltered spot, under large trees and shrubs or against walls, give them some heat and protection during the winter.
5. Ensure that plants with tender flower buds or shoots are not planted in east-facing sites.
6. Leave the old growth of tender plants unpruned over the winter months. This will help to protect the central crown of the plant and take the brunt of any frost damage. If plants are cut back hard in autumn new growth could be damaged by frost.
7. Cold air and frost always descend to the lowest point in a garden so avoid planting tender plants in obvious frost pockets.


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