Ellen Mary shares tips for planting herbs in containers
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Plants are still in a tender growing stage during May and therefore they must be protected until all risks associated with cold weather have passed. There may still be frost, cold winds and heavy rain in May, with nights potentially reaching very cold temperatures. But what steps should you take to effectively protect your plants from bad weather conditions?
Cold weather can cause significant damage to your plants including wilted and limp leaves, and brown or yellow foliage.
Tender young plants are most likely to be affected by harsh weather.
However, even hardy plants can become damaged over a significant period of cold weather, particularly if the ground soil becomes frozen repeatedly.
Once a plant is damaged, you must remove the damage or it could spread to the rest of the plant.
How to protect your plants from bad weather
Cloches work in the same way as greenhouses by keeping plants and the surrounding soil warm and protected.
Low growing plants can be protected with a cloche.
Cloches should be removed once the harsh weather conditions have passed to prevent disease from developing.
Fleece-covered and bell-shaped cloches are quick and easy to use.
Recycled plastic bottles
Individual plants can also be protected using homemade “mini cloches” made form plastic drinks bottles.
To create this type of cloche, simply cut the top and bottom of the bottom before placing it around the plant.
This method should protect delicate leaves on young plants from chilly temperatures.
You should try to remove these cloches each morning to ensure the air inside does not overheat and damage the plant.
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One of the best ways to protect your plant in the longer term is to place it in a sunny, yet sheltered spot.
Putting plants near south-facing walls should provide them with some protection from harsh weather conditions.
You can also group containers filled with plants together so they can protect themselves from the cold and wind due to proximity.
A fleece works very well when it comes to protecting bedding plants and vegetables.
A horticultural fleece or recycled, fine grade net curtain should be supported by wire or cane loops above plants.
The cover with wires should also help to elevate the fleece above the plants to avoid squashing them.
The fleece can also help maintain food airflow around plants and therefore can be left in place for a few days.
Placing mulch on the ground around the roots of plants will also help to insulate them and protect them from the cold.
This method tends to only work effectively with hardy plants however.
Mulch materials which prove most successful include garden compost, straw and bark chippings.
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