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Talkback: Protecting plants from frost

Hi, I am a new gardener and not sure if it is to late to prune shrubs and over grown trees! The garden still has lots of green and two wks ago new buds on shrubs? Please help!


  • I have a cold greenhouse, but would like to grow veg over the winter, any suggestions on what I can grow ie Lettuce etc
  • Yes, I have been given some myrtle cuttings which I have put in rooting powder in a pot. Info says they need to be kept warm so I have brought them indoors for the winter.( I only have a plastic greenhouse) The leaves are still down even after being in my back bedroom on the floor do you think they will be ok or should I get rid of them? They were cut in August and given to me by a friend.
  • I have sweet william plants bought as plugs know doing well about 4inches can i plant them out? will they survive winter?
  • Yes. Sue/A, your Sweet William plants shpuld be fine if planted out now but don't delay. The soil is still warm. I have lots I grew from seed, a bit taller than yours and am hoping the rain we are promised for the West country tomorrow will make the job easier. They are hardy biennial - sow one year, flower the next, but lots of them will go on and act as short-lived perennials and it is easy to take cuttings from them when they are nice and bushy. I love them and let them seed in the garden.
  • I live in Hungary part of the time and I was watching the program about caring for succlents in winter. You say take houseleaks in but here we leave them out in the ground and they are quite happy which is surprising when you take into account our winters go down to minus 18. Ive also see prickly pear in the ground with snow all round it so it appears succlents arnt as tender as we think. So I wldnt bother fussing with them. Campsis peaches and nectarines also stay in the ground year after year without any harm coming to them.
  • Yes,gaslest, many alpines are succulents. They have evolved that way to conserve moisture which is unavailable to them when it is frozen as ice or snow, but they do contain chemicals in their cells which act as anti-freeze, whereas succulents from arid regions do not have such antifreeze so frost can kill them. Sempervivums and sedums will survive the winter here but things like aoniums and graptopetalums need some protection. better to be safe than sorry but, if in doubt, look up the natural habitat of your plant and try to replicate it.
  • I have some banana plants which I always struggle to get through winter. This year I have taken off and potted up about a dozen young plants from them which are now in the greenhouse. It will be interesting to see how these do as I've never done this from bananas before. the big plants will have to go through the chicken wire, straw and fleece routine again but I do expect to lose some all the same!

  • I have recently purchased plugs of hollyhock, lupin aqualegia and some others and in the greenhouse they have doubled in size. Should i keep them in the greenhouse until the frosts have passed or transplant them into the bed perhaps with cloches?
  • Yes, Pippa, frost forecast for the Bristol area tonight too, so I have brought in all my tender plants. But it is only a flash in the pan and the week-end is going to warm up again. Still the conservatory looks great with the succulents and large geraniums back in. I closed its roof vents too early and got mildew on my chrysanthemum leaves but it seems to have all washed off as I took them outside in the rain. You live and learn.
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