Tag Archive: over wintering


I featured a range of ‘hotels for the discerning’ earlier this year, and here are a few more ideas for desirable residences for the bugs you want in your garden.

Old School Gardener

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800px-Fuchsia_2008

With winter around the corner, this week’s question comes from Penny Rose in Hampshire:

‘I’ve moved house earlier this year and planted some fuchsias in the garden. I bought these from a local nursery and they are described as ‘hardy’. Can I leave them in the ground over winter and if so do I need to protect them in some way?’

Well, Penny, In the coldest parts of the UK you’ll have no option but to dig up your plants and put them in a conservatory or greenhouse. It’s also a good insurance policy to take cuttings (preferably in early autumn) to bring on new plants in case of a particularly severe frost or disease problems. In warmer areas you can leave plants in the ground but take steps to protect them by not cutting down the stems in Autumn, and by making some holes in the ground around each plant with a a border fork, to help water drain away- particularly important if you have heavy soil that retains water. Once this is done you should put a mulch of leaf mould, wood ashes or soil around the base of  the plant to protect it further. Some Fuchsia varieties are hardier than  others; the toughest are F. magellanica, F.’Riccartonii’ and F. ‘Mrs. Popple’ which can withstand temperatures down to between -5C and -15C.

So in somewhere like Hampshire, you’ll probably be OK  to leave your Fuchsias outside (but take the action suggested above). For me here in Norfolk, it’s a little more difficult to be sure, so I’ll leave some outside (in a pot in a warmish courtyard) and either bring others in or mulch my sandy loam soil (forming drainage holes isn’t as important).

Old School Gardener

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) 'Candy Floss'

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) ‘Candy Floss’

This week’s question comes from a recent blog follower, Elena who lives in Bergamo, Italy:

“Yesterday I bought three big Amaryllis bulbs, any tips?! There was a Dutch flower stand in my city and I couldn’t resist!”

Elena, I can do no better than show this useful video of the way to pot these wonderful bulbs. After you’ve completed the potting up, place the pot in a warm, dark place and watch for signs of new leaves. Once these are showing, then place the pot in a bright, sunny, frost-free place indoors – a windowsill would do fine. Planted about now you should have some glorious colour at Christmas!

amaryllis christmasWhilst on the subject of keeping things frost-free over winter, there is one golden rule when trying to protect tender plants over the coldest months: don’t over water.

When temperatures are low, the great enemy of plants is dampness, as rot may set in. During very cold spells it is usually best to withhold water entirely. Plants that are dormant or resting should in any case be watered very rarely, perhaps just enough to prevent complete drying out. Plants with fleshy roots, and bulbs, corms, tubers, rhizomes and other storage organs must be kept quite dry and frost-free or they will rot. They should be stored in containers of clean, dry sand or gritty compost. If stored in a greenhouse, the atmosphere must also be kept on the dry side, and should be ventilated when the general temperature allows. If you have an extra cold spell and you can’t keep the air temperature up, you can protect your plants to some extent against frost damage by covering them with horticultural fleece, dry newspaper or ‘bubble wrap’ plastic anchored with stones.

dahlia tubers

Dahlia tubers are best lifted, cleaned off, dried and then stored in sand or gritty compost before significant frost

Old School Gardener

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