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Keeping your plants happy this winter.

Take Cover!

If you recently felt the icy cold air when opening your front door early in the morning, then you will have noticed in some cases, the white covering on the grass and even on some plants. Yes, frost is here and if you do not take care of your plants then you may lose them during winter.

That thin layer of white glitter on the grass may seem very inviting especially to the kids, but it can have a devastating effect on you plants if you do not take care. Frost kills many plants, as the water inside the plant cell walls expands when it freezes. This will then break the cell walls, thus they can no longer carry any of the plants nutrient juices, causing them to die.

Did you know? (Frost comes in 3 different types.)

Ground frost is the formation of ice on the ground, as the surface temperature have gone below the freezing point of water. This can also be called a white frost.

Air frost is when the air temperature is below the freezing point of water as this is normally at a height of at least one meter above the ground. This can be very harmful as it can kill plant stems, fruit and flowers. When the ground cools quicker than the air, you stand a chance of having ground frost without an air frost.

Hoar frost is composed in the same manner as dew with tiny icy crystals. This however happens when the surface area is already below freezing point and gives that ‘feathery’ type of frost.

Evergreen bushes and trees are normally hardier against frost whereas deciduous trees and bushes as well as perennial flowers such as roses and lavender, may handle the frost but their stems, leaves and flowers may not survive. Most vegetables will not survive a frost.

If the temperatures in your area does not go lower than -5°C, then most of your trees should be able to handle it.

The only berry plants that do not like extreme cold and frost are the Cape Gooseberry and Tayberry plants.

How to deal with frost.

Having frost on your plants may not be the end of your trees as many plants will still recover given the time.

Ensure that you cover the ground with a thick mulch in winter as this acts as a barrier to protect your plants.

Cut back any frosted growth in spring as this prevents any die back  which will encourage new shoots form the plants.

Raise the pots with plants, away from the ground as this will prevent any waterlogging and keep them from contact with the icy ground. Using old bricks to lift the pot away from the ground will work just as well.

Give your plants a liquid feed in winter such as comfrey tea in order to encourage new growth.

Cover your tropical trees and new plants with frost cover or even hessian during the cold winter days.

How to cover my trees?

Firstly you need to understand how frost cover works. Frost cover excludes the cold air from outside the plant and creates an insulating air pocket around the plants. This is done through the heat from the soil, which is warmer than the air, being trapped beneath the blanket and then held near the plants.

The best solution is to build a frame around the tree and cover the frame properly with frost cover. If you do not have a frame then drape the frost cover over the tree and let it hang all the way down to the soil.

Remember that the idea is not to get any cold air in from the outside towards the tree, so put something to hold the frost cover down onto the ground. Tying the frost cover onto the stem of the tree may keep the leaves green but you can stand a chance of getting damage to the roots and bottom stem of the tree.

If you haven’t bought your frost cover yet then visit us today and keep your garden plants safe against the icy winter. It is available at R15 per meter, 3m wide.

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