How to Winter-Proof your garden

14 July 2020 | Life Style

Pupkewitz MegaBuild team member and horticulturist Eugene le Roux shares invaluable advice on getting your garden geared for winter and how to protect your plants when icy temperatures hit.

Q:What can I do to protect the plants in my garden during winter months?
A:Start by preparing in advance to ensure that your plants have a smaller chance of frost damage by using a high potassium fertilizer to strengthen your cell tissue like 3:1:5. Adjust your summer watering schedule to a winter schedule (less watering). Frost tender plants may also be covered with a frost cover or sheeting, which provides protection against frost.

Q:What temperatures will result in plant damage?
A:Temperatures ranging from 5°celsius and under, depending on the humidity as well as the moisture content of the cells in the plant. The higher the moisture content, the more damage may occur, thus you need to give plants less water in winter.

Q:Should I stop buying plants/trees/greenery during winter?
A:Not at all, as there are several plants that you can still plant during winter. I always say that if you live in a frost-prone area, stick to plants that are already growing in your neighborhood, as they will survive the cold temperatures, irrelevant of when you plant them. The only difference is that it may take slightly longer for the roots to establish than it would in summer.

Q:Should you give your plants fertilizer during winter, and if so, what fertilizer do you recommend?
A:I would not recommend much of a feeding program for the wintertime, unless you are doing new planting. Most plants will be dormant or semi-dormant, in any case. One may fertilize with a low Nitrogen fertilizer like 2:3:2 or use additional Superphosphate for root development, especially with vegetables in winter, which are mostly an underground crop e.g. potatoes, onions, radishes, carrots, etc. I would be more likely to go with organic, e.g. Seagro, Nutrisol, and organic poultry fertilizers etc.

Q:How regularly should you water your garden during the winter?
A:Your water schedule should be set to a much later time in the morning, and preferably not in the afternoon at all. Normally, in summer you would set your schedule for 5am, but in winter you will have to reschedule it to no earlier than 8am. My suggestion would be for you to water your lawn for 6 to 8 minutes, three times a week. Flower beds can be watered for 4 to 6 minutes, three times per week.

Q:What is a common mistake that most people make in winter when it comes to their gardens?
A:Most people become impatient towards the end of the winter, and start cutting away damaged plant tissue that gives protection to the tissue underneath which is still alive. This exposes the plant to late frost towards the middle of September, and the plant gets more damage than it would have had.

Plants which are normally resistant to frost are your deciduous trees, stone fruit, and various shrubs, ground covers and annuals:

TREES: (Indigenous)
Buddleija saligna (False Olive)
Grewia spp (Cross-berry)
Kiggelaria Africana (Wild Peach)
Searsia lancea (Mountain Karree)
Searsia pendulina (White Karree)
Acacia karroo (Sweet Thorn)
Celtis Africana (White Stinkwood)
Zizipphus mucronata (Blinkblaar wag-‘n-bietjie)

SHRUBS: (Indigenous)
Buddleja saligna
Dodonea angustifolia (Sand Olive)
Freylinia tropicana
Polygala spp.
Salvia spp.

Dietes bicolour (Rain Lilly)
Dimorphothega spp.
Osteospermum spp.
Felicia spp.
Gazania spp.
Kniphofia spp.Scabiosa spp.

Bulbine spp.
Cotyledon orbiculate
Crassula spp.
Aloe cooperii, A. ferox, A. suprafoliata
Aptenia cordifolia
Euphorbia spp.
Kalanchoe spp.
Lampranthus spp. (Vygie)

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