As it starts to near into the winter season and the temperatures start to drop, you will be considering frost proofing your flowers and bulbs. Before you rush into anything look for the first signs of frost and the potential damage this could cause, these being:
• When the sky is clear and calm and the temperatures are low enough for frost to occur, when ice starts to form on the leaves of plants and flowers. Equally, if the temperature is quickly dropping, the sky is clear but windy, a quick approaching and hard frost may be approaching. If the sky is cloudy then frost will most likely be prevented, the clouds act as a blanket on the Earth keeping in some heat from the day and ensuring the temperature is warm enough for frost to be unable to form.
• Wind: wind makes it more difficult for cold air to settle to the ground and turn into frost, unless the temperature of the wind is below freezing.
• Humidity: when the air is humid and moist it is slightly warm, this helps to prevent frost.
• Where your garden and plants are situated. Some places, in particular high and low areas of your garden, are likely to be colder, therefore increasing the chance of frost, and a garden surrounded by trees and /or buildings or water has less of a chance of frost.
• Soil: Some soils enable the flowers planted there to deal with colder temperatures, retaining more moisture and keeping in more heat.
Check what soil or compost yours are planted in.
• Check with how each of your plants deal with frost and colder temperatures as this will impact upon how early you should cover them up. Also consider how the plants are situated, plants huddled together will offer each other support and protect one another, single plants are likely to be more affected.
To protect your plants and flowers from the cold temperatures:
There are 2 basic things you need to do:
1. Cover your plants to retain as much heat and moisture in the soil as you can and to offer protection against harsh winds.
• Cut back, thin out and generally tidy up each of the flowers and plants so that it is at its bare minimum, this will help it to grown back fuller and stronger the following year.
• Add some protections. Some plants will need more protecting than others, usually a layer of compost or organic matter is used and will suffice, however, sometimes adding a protective layer of something like shredded bark mulch is required.
• When you are trimming and pruning your plants keep a look out for any diseased plants or insect infestations. If you find anything it is wise to remove these plants and deal with the insects using a pesticide.
• If you have any particularly delicate flowers you should dig them up, pot them and bring them into your home, or a warm greenhouse to give them the best chance of survival. This is also true of any summer bulbs that are more gentle, which should be dug up and stored in a box.
2. Water your plants on the day that the frost is predicted to help to keep the soil moist.