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How to Protect Shrubs and Wall Plants in Winter
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Most shrub and wall plants do not need any special winter protection but a few do. These are the ones to watch out for: 1. Plants that are borderline hardy or are tender in your area. 2. Newly-planted shrubs and wall plants, especially evergreens. 3. Plants vulnerable to wind damage e.g. climbers that have not been tied to supports and upright conifers. 4. Plants growing in windy, exposed sites or on a soil that is waterlogged in winter e.g. sticky clay. 5. Plants left outside in containers - even hardy plants will die if their rootball gets frozen.
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you will need
A greenhouse or conservatory; bubble insulation and tape; a heater; max-min thermometer; insulating material e.g. bark chips or straw; netting or garden fleece plus pegs; wooden posts; windbreak netting; hammer and nails or a staple gun.
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step1
Before the first frosts, bring any tender plants in containers into a greenhouse or conservatory. Look up the minimum winter temperature for that plant, use a heater and a max-min thermometer to maintain the correct temperature. Protect the rootball of hardy plants in containers by wrapping the container in a double layer of bubble polythene.
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step2
Plants of borderline hardiness that are growing in the ground can have the base of the plant protected from frost. Even if the top growth dies back, new shoots will come from the base. A 15cm deep layer of insulating material e.g. bark chips, bracken or straw is needed. Hold this in place with netting or garden fleece and secure with pegs. Check it once a week to ensure that it does not become waterlogged - if it does, change it. Remember to remove the covering early in the spring or it may encourage premature growth.
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step3
Newly-planted shrub and wall plants, even if they are hardy, may suffer in their first couple of winters as their roots are not yet established. It is cold winds that dry the plants out rather than the actual cold. Evergreens are most at risk from this, evergreen hedges in an exposed position may become brown in their lower sections following over-exposure to winter winds. Erect a temporary windbreak over the plant to filter out the wind. Use posts with windbreak netting or hessian nailed to them and fixed to the wall. The idea is to keep the protective material (and thus the cold) away from them. Avoid solid barriers as these cause wind turbulence.
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step4
The neat-shape of many upright conifers can be permanently spoilt if snow weighs down on the upright branches forcing them to bend outwards. Wrap green or black netting around them to hold their shape together.
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Move tender plants undercover before first frosts
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Protect roots of borderline plants with a layer of mulch
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Install temporary windbreaks around new evergreens

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