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Getting a lot of Echium Pininana through the winter

The advice is to use fleece or dig them up and store them somewhere frost free, but I’ve got over a dozen of these things, and they’re already pretty big, so I’m looking for a more economic solution. I lost all my echiums in a previous snowy winter because I didn't prevent the snow from sitting on the crowns, and they all rotted, so just before the snow this season I covered every one of the plants in plastic, netting, or whatever came to hand, and hopefully I’ll save some this time around, but do any of you have experience with a practical, economical way to protect such plants?
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  • McRazzMcRazz Posts: 144
    edited December 2022
    Fleece is the best approach but its not a silver bullet against frost and snow. I lost the tips of a lot of my EP's after a late spring frost this year and they were all sufficiently fleeced.

    My limited experience tells me that growing in large pots then overwintering in the greenhouse is the best approach if you live anywhere other than the SW or coastal regions. The plants will transplant from pots to beds but the pots need to be BIG, like 30+ litres and they don't want to be planted into heavy clay as they struggle to root out. So dig a hole 1.5x larger than the pot to ensure they have the best possible start. 

    Digging up will only work with seedlings, larger plants won't survive the process.

    I've got hundreds of seedlings all over my garden and after the last two weeks they all look dead. I also have 3 large EP's but they look to have gone the same way unfortunately, but time will tell.

    In summary it sounds like you've adopted the right approach, its just going to be labour intensive but i guess that depends on how much you want your EP's to pull through this cold spell.

  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze I garden in South Notts on an improved clay soil Posts: 3,108
    @mrmadcatsv-UE97rx I wonder where you live in the country? They seem fine on the Isle of Wight but on the mainland I am not suprised you are having problems.
    I am not sure but I would have thought they would need to be inside. In more recent  winters we have been able to grow plants that are less hardy. However just as we are lulled into a false sense of security we get really cold weather like we have now. Sometimes as a gardener you must just accept it is either time to buy and take the risk again or try something new.

    You could try Echium World in Notts for some help. They have been members of a local gardening group. Hopefully they would be keen to give advice.
    The most serious gardening I do would seem very strange to an onlooker,for it involves hours of walking round in circles,apparently doing nothing. Helen Dillon.
  • McRazz said:
    Fleece is the best approach but its not a silver bullet against frost and snow. I lost the tips of a lot of my EP's after a late spring frost this year and they were all sufficiently fleeced.

    My limited experience tells me that growing in large pots then overwintering in the greenhouse is the best approach if you live anywhere other than the SW or coastal regions. The plants will transplant from pots to beds but the pots need to be BIG, like 30+ litres and they don't want to be planted into heavy clay as they struggle to root out. So dig a hole 1.5x larger than the pot to ensure they have the best possible start. 

    Digging up will only work with seedlings, larger plants won't survive the process.

    I've got hundreds of seedlings all over my garden and after the last two weeks they all look dead. I also have 3 large EP's but they look to have gone the same way unfortunately, but time will tell.

    In summary it sounds like you've adopted the right approach, its just going to be labour intensive but i guess that depends on how much you want your EP's to pull through this cold spell.

    Interesting to hear that your fleece wasn't completely effective.

     We have a few in the greenhouse in pots as a back-up, but in my experience they always grow into a smaller plant, so it's not ideal. I’ve not trie using huge pots though, so maybe I'll have an assortment of sizes next time around. Sorry to hear about yours, it's such a disappointment, isn’t it
  • McRazzMcRazz Posts: 144
    edited December 2022
    McRazz said:
    Fleece is the best approach but its not a silver bullet against frost and snow. I lost the tips of a lot of my EP's after a late spring frost this year and they were all sufficiently fleeced.

    My limited experience tells me that growing in large pots then overwintering in the greenhouse is the best approach if you live anywhere other than the SW or coastal regions. The plants will transplant from pots to beds but the pots need to be BIG, like 30+ litres and they don't want to be planted into heavy clay as they struggle to root out. So dig a hole 1.5x larger than the pot to ensure they have the best possible start. 

    Digging up will only work with seedlings, larger plants won't survive the process.

    I've got hundreds of seedlings all over my garden and after the last two weeks they all look dead. I also have 3 large EP's but they look to have gone the same way unfortunately, but time will tell.

    In summary it sounds like you've adopted the right approach, its just going to be labour intensive but i guess that depends on how much you want your EP's to pull through this cold spell.

    Interesting to hear that your fleece wasn't completely effective.

     We have a few in the greenhouse in pots as a back-up, but in my experience they always grow into a smaller plant, so it's not ideal. I’ve not trie using huge pots though, so maybe I'll have an assortment of sizes next time around. Sorry to hear about yours, it's such a disappointment, isn’t it
    In fairness, my issue with the tops burning off (under fleece) may well have been that they were already reaching up to flower, so the tips weren't compacted with foliar growth and were very exposed. Unfortunately if you over-winter in the greenhouse it seems to force the flowering process around March as the days drag out and the solar warming increases.

    You're right, you'll never get a 16ft'r from a pot, but mine managed around 8ft after being transplanted which was satisfactory enough for me considering my location 150m up in inland E-Sussex. I'm convinced that if I'd been brave enough to plant out a few weeks earlier, and dig the holes bigger, I would have had taller plants.

    I'll continue with the odd potted plants every year as they're such a great addition to the borders. Long term my hope is that a well placed seed germinates in the right place and survives one of our all to frequent mild winters.
  • punkdocpunkdoc Sheffield, Derbyshire border.Posts: 13,027
    It would be helpful to know where you were, as they are really not very hardy in the North.
    There are ashtrays of emulsion,
    for the fag ends of the aristocracy.
  • I think it's also important to keep any wet or cold insulating material off the plants. I haven't grown them but was planning to and did some research and it seemed very important not to let wet or cold sit on the leaves and try to keep a good airflow around it. The guy who mentioned that kept little greenhouse type setups over his.

    I was given one this year that is fairly big but it was dug up from someone's garden and just dumped on my doorstep because they thought I'd like it. I don't think it will survive as it was looking really sickly before the cold weather and the greenhouse has frost on the inside at the moment. I think keeping them in large pots so they are transportable is the way to go as they don't like root disturbance it seems.
  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze I garden in South Notts on an improved clay soil Posts: 3,108
    I am not at all suprised that in a very cold winter that fleece is not effective.
    The most serious gardening I do would seem very strange to an onlooker,for it involves hours of walking round in circles,apparently doing nothing. Helen Dillon.
  • AstroAstro Posts: 383
    I've gotten them through multiple winters in the north east of England.I use fleece sacks and the colder the more layers of them I put on. I put fleece on first layer then a plastic sack on the second, then fleece/s on top of that. 
  • PerkiPerki Rossendale - LancashirePosts: 2,288
    I think I've lost mine in the Greenhouse , they were all black when I manged to pry the door open and that was last week. 
  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze I garden in South Notts on an improved clay soil Posts: 3,108
    edited December 2022
    I would have thought you would be taking a risk with fleece unless you create an air pocket and even then they may not come through. Four to five nights running of below -5c will cause frost damage to many plants that are much hardier than Echiums.
    The most serious gardening I do would seem very strange to an onlooker,for it involves hours of walking round in circles,apparently doing nothing. Helen Dillon.
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