Protect exotic plants in winter

Protect exotic plants in winter

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Certain plants in our gardens are not adapted to the severity of winter: night frost, wind which favors the penetration of cold into plant tissues, drop in temperatures, excess humidity… Winter protection is crucial for the survival of '' a plant, especially for semi-rustic plants (resistant up to -5 ° C) and frostbite (sensitive to frost), such as exotic plants (palm trees, banana trees ...), all Mediterranean trees and shrubs, tropical and equatorial as well as geraniums, fuchsias and other oleanders ... Here are our tips for finding them unharmed at the end of winter. To be adapted according to regions and nature, always unpredictable!

Plants take their winter quarters

Plants in tubs will be sheltered. Depending on the plants and the space available, a garage, an outbuilding or ideally, a veranda, a glass roof, a greenhouse will be used to serve as a refuge. We prefer as much as possible a bright place. This is particularly the case for tropical plants such as hibiscus or orchids, the least tolerant and the most chilly that you have to think of returning or protecting from October, when temperatures approach 10 °. vs. They can be placed in a bright room where the temperature is not lower than 10 ° C, such as a veranda or a greenhouse.
For Mediterranean plants (oleander, pelargonium, bird of paradise, bougainvillea, citrus, lantana), we will favor as shelter for the winter a cool and airy room with the maximum of light. The temperature of the wintering room should ideally be between 5 and 8 ° C, between 10 and 12 ° for laurels and mimosas, bougainvilleas, jasmines ... and between 15 and 20 ° for orange and lemon trees. If certain species can be brought inside the house (citrus, bougainvillea, birds of paradise ...), it is imperative to avoid excessively high temperatures and keep them away from heating sources. Rhizome plants such as dahlias, gladioli, agapanthus, amaryllis, will be dug up with their clod to be sheltered with little or no light. If your potted plants spend the summer outside, do not bring them suddenly into an apartment as soon as it gets cold. To avoid thermal shock, put them in before the first cold, when the difference between the outside and lower temperatures is not too great. In short, anticipate!

The winter veil

For plants in the ground or in pots that remain outside all winter (olive trees, oleanders, palm trees except the trachycarpus which must be brought in) the winter veil which a kind of very light fabric, is particularly recommended . Unlike a "plastic" film, it is permeable to air and water, which prevents dehydration of protected plants and lets light through. Since the region is frequently subject to winter frosts, it is strongly advised to put a winter veil on Mediterranean plants, especially if they are grown in pots. Fragile trees such as olive or banana (except musella and musa basjoo which resist cold) in regions where the temperature is below -5 ° C in winter, must be fully protected. In this case, we cover the foliage but also the trunk of a thick doormat (braided rush, strip of burlap, reed ...) maintained by links. The foliage is covered with a winter veil, the thickness of which can be doubled for the plants most sensitive to cold. Be careful, the winter veil only saves a few degrees. No miracle expected!

Mulching: a protective layer

Mulch is a technique of applying a layer of protective material to reduce the effects of an excessively harsh climate on the soil of the plantation. This process keeps the heat in the soil during the most delicate periods. It is particularly recommended to protect the roots of trees and shrubs in the event of frost. The roots that remain protected will give new growth in the spring. The right time to put this mulch in place is the middle of autumn, before the cold weather comes. After this period, the risk would be to install a mulch on frozen ground, which would then trap the cold soil! Different materials can be used for mulching. You can take advantage of pruning work to recover healthy wood which, once passed through the vegetable shredder, will constitute an economical mulch, which will however have the disadvantage of retaining moisture. Ideally, straw will be used. The leaves of the garden, or mowed lawns will also do the trick.

Adapted care

Before returning for the winter some plants can be pruned, like southern flowering plants: bougainvillea, oleander ... to remove the faded leaves and stems. We will remove the damaged leaves at the bottom of the palm trees and banana trees. Even in winter care must be taken to maintain good humidity. For all plants, watering will be limited to the strict minimum (only when the root ball is dry, 1 to 2 times per month depending on the species) to maintain a very slight humidity and we should avoid doing it in cold weather, especially when it frozen. For citrus, for example, watering should be moderate: once every fortnight is a good average if the place is not heated. Humidity is essential for tropical plants, which can suffer from overheating and need moisture to stay in bloom. Remember to check regularly that your plants are not suffering from a disease (yellowing of the leaves, sudden fall of flower buds) or ravaged by rodents. Especially from the end of January, because it is during this period that mealybugs begin to appear, but also red spiders and aphids from early February. Check that the winter quarters of the plants are well ventilated to ensure a correct wintering temperature. Large glazed areas in particular can become very hot from the beginning of February, or overwintering plants should not be exposed to large temperature fluctuations or left before time.

The return of sunny days

During the first beautiful days of spring, remember to ventilate and open your greenhouse, veranda, garage and other shelters where the plants are installed. You must wait until the risk of frost has passed before putting them back in the garden. The Mediterranean women will be the first to go out as soon as the frosts have passed. Tropical plants will wait for better conditions to go out. In any case, you must wait until the end of the ice saints (mid May) so as not to be surprised by late frosts. Plants kept indoors in a relatively dark space should be able to gradually adapt to the light. Do not put them suddenly in direct sunlight as this could burn them! As soon as the temperatures get mild at the end of winter, discover the plants by removing the winter sails temporarily or permanently. As for the ground protection, it will be removed as soon as any risk of frost is eliminated. Take advantage of the return of fine weather to repot the plants and make a fertilizer supply 1 or 2 months later. Similarly for those that are in the ground, ventilate the latter without forgetting to add a little fertilizer. It is also a good time to trim your citrus fruits. You knew how to protect them from winter, your plants will be grateful for the following season! But be reasonable, choose species adapted to your region because no one can go against nature ... Thanks : - Yann Chouquet, deputy director of greenhouses at the lycée horticole de Lyon,, - Olivier Lefebvre, "Garden" sales manager at Botanic. video id = "0" / Our practical garden videos