Protect and Save

Britain has a maritime climate & this allows us to grow plants from many parts of the world. The seas around the UK bring relatively warm air to our islands and this warm air stops us from freezing up for months in winter. However we do get cold snaps, some of them prolonged, and writing this here at over 600 feet above sea level in Sheffield (UK) also means the further north you are and the higher you are you will get very cold winter periods. Some plants need to wrap up warm to survive. This is where ‘horticultural fleece’ comes into play.

Horticultural fleece has been a gardeners aid for many years. Available in white and supplied on a roll is been the essential ‘go to’ to wrap more tender plants for winter. However being white it doesn’t look very pretty & wrapping it around plants often meant rewrapping regular after strong winds.

Easier to use

Fleece Plant Jackets are much easier to use. These jackets are made from green horticultural fleece but manufactured as a bag with pull cord & toggle to pull the jacket tightly around the base of the plant holding the jacket in place. Fleece on a roll still has its place. Use it as shade, and as an insulator over young plants in a frame or greenhouse. Also, you can cover early crops in the ground burying the edges in your soils to hold it in position.  In winter it is also a good insulating stuffer to add even more insulation to tender plants. White fleece wrapped around a plant & then covered with a green fleece jacket makes a great duvet for tender plants.

Horticultural fleece allows plants to breathe, it is porous and doesn’t rot. It doesn’t hold much water so doesn’t freeze easily. It can be washed and used over and over. Never wrap ever green plants in just polythene. It will make leaves rot & actually may freeze inside when it’s not quite frosty outside. Polythene over thick insulation over really tender plants such as bananas is practical however.

Plants that might need fleece wrapping for winter:

  • Olive* (Olea europa)
  • Bay Trees* (Laurus nobilis)
  • Bottlebrush plants* (Callistemon)
  • Camellias in bud or opening bud.
  • Meditteranean plants especially hairy & silver leaves.

Plants that need full insulation & waterproof wrapping will include*:

  • Banana
  • Ginger
  • Canna
  • Tree ferns

*  all tender plants and those on the border of hardiness in the UK may need overwintering in a frost-free greenhouse or conservatory. It really pays to know where your plants originated & then you can compare their original habitat to the one you experience in your garden. A tip for you: back garden are often more sheltered than front garden.

Plants that might suffer sudden damage such as Camellia in flowers will be happier growing facing west or even north and avoiding easterly aspects to avoid the early morning sun after a frost. The rapid change in temperature from frozen to thawed out causes the most damage to petals and tender foliage. Just before the ice crystals melting the cells the expand and as ice has sharp points they burst through the cell walls 7 the cels ‘dry’ out. Then you see the damage as brown petals or leaves.

Over the past 20 years, our climate, especially in winter, has been much warmer than before this period. This has allowed us to ‘get away’ with growing much more tender plants outside all year round.  The winter of 2010/11 still proved that we still get bad winters. Horticultural fleece in jacket form is an essential tool for a modern UK garden. Invest in some & use them year after year.

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