The Gardening Year Feb 2018

What to do now - February

Protect outdoor container plants

Many parts of the country have already experienced several sharp frosts and, as February is traditionally one of the coldest months of the year, now is a good time to protect any outdoor containers if you haven’t already done so.

In prolonged freezing weather, the root ball in the pot is likely to freeze which can harm or kill the plant, especially if the plant is borderline-hardy. Damage is usually worse on evergreen plants as they are unable to take in water when the roots are frozen but moisture continues to be lost through their leaves which can result in them dying from de-hydration.

Just a little protection to the roots can usually see plants through cold spells un-harmed. Ideally, bringing container plants undercover is the best course of action but if this isn’t possible, there are a few options for protecting your plants:

Hanging baskets in exposed situations should be taken down and protected in very cold weather or covered over with a fleece bag which gives a little frost protection and prevents wind scorch.

Container plants should be grouped together in a sheltered spot by a sunny wall and the pots insulated. Bubble polythene is perfect for this and, as well as wrapping it around the pots, pack it in the gaps between them.

Drape a couple of layers of garden fleece over evergreen foliage. Deciduous plants are normally fine left exposed. Don’t be tempted to use bubble polythene for this as it will cause the plants to sweat which could lead to more problems.

 Quick tips:

  • Protect exposed outdoor container plants by grouping them together in a sheltered spot and taking down hanging baskets.
  •  Prune shrubs, climbers and evergreen hedges
  • Start sowing vegetables such as broad beans, carrots and onions
  • Keep compost in containers moist at all times to prevent them from drying out.

The Ideal products to use this month are:-