Watch out for late frosts and cold winds

We’ve had several customers show us photos of plants in their garden that have had the leaves suddenly shrivel up or brown. The cause in these examples were actually wind damage or what we call ‘scorch’ caused by the cold winds we have had lately and the occasional frost.

Potential Plant Damage

Cold winds remove moisture from evergreen foliage more quickly than it can be replenished by the roots; this can cause leaf browning particularly at the tips and margins. Ground frost occurs when the temperature of the ground falls below freezing point (0ºC/32ºF) and air frost occurs when the temperature of the air falls below freezing point. The cells within a plant can be damaged by frost with the worst damage occurring in plants that have had repeated freezing and thawing events.

How to Avoid Plant Damage

While new plants establish themselves they are particularly vulnerable. It is best to hold back planting until the risk of frosts has passed completely (end of May), storing your plants in a well lit conservatory or greenhouse or cold frame while you wait (don’t forget to water them).

If you have already planted them though you can cover your plants with horticultural fleece (which we sell by the running metre). This lightweight fabric prevents damage from wind and cold temperatures. You can also wrap bubble wrap around your pots to help keep roots warm.
Applying a layer of bark around the roots of your plants is known as mulching. Mulching is a great thing to do in your garden borders as the bark acts as a blanket to the soil (keeping it warmer) and it also helps to suppress weed growth (as it blocks out the light to the soil). In addition, a mulch helps retain moisture in the soil.