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A garden greenhouse in the sunshine

Preparing your greenhouse for winter


As the most incredible summer now progresses into Autumn; we turn our efforts to the next stage in our garden activities – preparing plants for frost protection.

If you have a greenhouse to over winter plants a little groundwork and preparation now will reap rewards later. To begin you will need to make sure the conditions are clean, sanitary and ready for the new intake of plants as any unwanted pests and disease can linger and thrive in warm enclosed conditions and can cause cross contamination.

Step 1

Assess the health of any plants that are remaining from the summer in your greenhouse. Check for disease and pests. Ideally you want to have a total clear out and disinfection.

It is always good practice to maintain a healthy and purified environment even if you see no sign of disease in your greenhouse, maintaining the health of growing plants is essential, especially to those that bear fruit and veg.

Step 2

Remove any equipment such as pots, trays, supports, tools etc and give them a thorough clean preferably with greenhouse friendly disinfectant such as Jeyes Fluid (£14.99 1L or £6.00 for 300ml). This stuff is great, and will kill 99.9% of germs and can be used on a number of outside areas. It does stink, so if you are using it in an enclosed environment ensure you have sufficient ventilation.

Step 3

Give your greenhouse a good sweep and if you are planting directly in to the ground inside your greenhouse then we recommended you replenish your soil and compost every few years to eliminate the risks of pest and disease that may develop and cultivate beneath the surface.

Step 4

It is best to pick a dry day for this stage as you will want to keep everything as clean and tidy as you can. You will need a bucket of hot water, some greenhouse disinfectant such as Jeyes Fluid, a sponge, and a flexible plastic tool to flick and scrap any debris from the corners and crevices of your greenhouse (you can fashion your own tool from an old plant pot or a plastic plant label will suffice).

Once you’ve cleared our all the muck and dirt you can begin to scrub the glass panels and surfaces.

Mix your disinfectant and hot water as per instructions while wearing rubber gloves and scrub your greenhouse from top to bottom, reaching all corners and surfaces for a meticulous and thorough clean.

It’s important to get your greenhouse looking spick and span, not only for a lovely looking finish to be proud of but you will want to maximise the amount of light that can penetrate; after all that is the purpose of your greenhouse.

While the glass panes and surfaces dry, it is probably best to keep all doors and hatches open for ventilation, this will also help to speed up the drying process but while you wait, so why not have a nice cuppa tea and relax while you wait.

Step 5

Now that you have a sterile environment to work in you will want to make plans for this space in the coming year and decide what it is that you’d like to grow and when. Late Autumn flowers and vegetables will benefit well from germinating under greenhouse conditions and seedlings will have much stronger changes of life within the confines of a protected habitat.

Alternatively you may just want to use your greenhouse as a shelter spot for frost sensitive outdoor plants. You can cut down on heating costs by insulating your greenhouse with bubblewrap. We sell bubblewrap on the roll and it is easy to line your glass and protect tender plants over the winter.   We also have a number of greenhouse heaters for sale in the garden centres that provide a little extra heat in very cold snaps enabling you to propagate through the winter.

Whatever your plans for the year ahead, we hope you enjoy the progression and sprouting of new life and are rewarded with a flourishing onset of growth activity.

Happy prepping everyone!


Skimmia japonica redruth; early flowering plants for pruning in May

Pruning in May

Pruning in May

Skimmia Japonica Fragrans. Early flowering plants for pruning in MayMay is the perfect time to prune any early-flowering shrubs that have now finished flowering, for example any Skimmia. Pruning annually is a great way to extend the lifetime of these shrubs and promote healthy flowering next year. By pruning shrubs as soon after they have flowered as possible, you allow the plant to direct its energy into developing next year’s shoots and flowers now, over the summer period.

Pruning made easy:

  1. The time to start is once the plant has completely finished flowering (you should not be able to see any new flower buds).
  2. Looking at the dead flowers, follow the stem under the flower back to the first leaf you come to and snip here unless you are going for a harder prune to get the shrub back in shape. If this is the case keep going down the stem until you get to the desired point and then snip just above a leaf/branch shoot.
  3. It is a good idea to take out any weak shoots so that the plant can refocus its energy away from these.
  4. If there appears to be overcrowding you may also choose to remove a few stems right from the ground in order to prevent any congestion.

Tools for the job:

For best results make sure that your secateurs are nice and sharp. To prolong the life of tools we also recommend a good wipe down when you finish using them. This stops sap from building up and clogging the mechanism.

You may also want to invest in a good pair of gardening gloves to protect your hands. There are lots of different types available, you simply want to chose a pair that allow your hand flexibility to be able to hold and cut with the secateurs. You may also want to look for longer gauntlet type gloves that will also give protection to the lower arm.

Both of our Exeter garden centres stock a selection of gardening gloves and garden hand tools and our plant team will be pleased to advise on pruning.