Winter in the garden

Christine Graf's picture

Few weeks ago I visited a garden center which is selling only typical plants from the region.

The owner sent afterwards some advice around to protect plants during the winter period which I would like to share with you:

Cold weather, especially frost, causes the water in plant cells to freeze and damages the cell wall; plant growth becomes limp and blackened, evergreens turn brown. The cold hardiness figure given for a plant is an indication rather than a certain value, it's the minimum temperature that a plant can support without damage to plant tissue. It is often the case that a plant is damaged by cold but can regenerate from the rootstock, the healthy part. 

The amount of damage done by cold weather is the product of a number of factors:

  • The duration of cold
  • The amount the temperature rises during the day
  • The acclimatisation of the plant (a well established plant with a deep root system will support more cold than a young plant or a plant in a pot).
  • The timing of frost (an early cold and a late one in spring while plants are in a state of growth is more damaging than the same degree of cold in the middle of winter when plants are dormant)
  • The composition of the soil: plants are more tolerant against well drained soil than in frosty, humid soil. Winter drought: if the soil is frozen but daytime temperatures rise, the plant will start to transpire and need water, which won't be accessible to the plant if the soil is frozen.

Shelter, wrap or plunged your sensible plants into the ground so that roots are protected.


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