HALF HARDY, HARDY OR JUST TENDER?
Now down to the nitty gritty - frost, is a solid desposition of water vapour from saturated air and it is formed when solid surfaces are cooled below the dew point of the adjacent air. Cold weather, particularly frost causes the water in the plant cells to freeze which damages their cell walls. Plants damaged by frost are easy to spot; their growth becomes limp, discoloured and disfigured. Frost problems are often made worse where a plant faces the morning sun as this causes the plant to defrost quickly, rupturing their cell walls.
The best seasonal acclimatization for plants is for mild frosts to occur which enables the plant to harden. The worst damage to plants generally occurs when there is a period of warm weather then a hard - 4 degree frost. One recent example of this was the uncharacteristic hard frost of October 2007.
Frost Tender Plants are most definitely frost intolerant and will envitably die from damage.
Half Hardy Or Frost Tolerant Plants are those that can tolerate a frost, but will in fact be reduced in their looks! Most garden centres at this time of year will generally keep low levels of stock of half hardy plants or will move such plants into a sheltered area.
Hardy Plants are the winners for winter. Whilst withstanding frost with very little damage, almost all growth will stop over the winter period.
In respect to your garden, many plants can be damaged or killed by freezing temperatures or frost. Prevention is the best method to alleviate damage. To minimize the damaging effects of the colder weather on your plants the following steps can be taken:
- Guard against frost with the use of a frost covering - old sacks, newspaper, cardboard or even a piece of carpet. Remember to remove the covering in the morning to let the air and light in.
- To insulate roots of tender shrubs and perennials, mulch with an organic material such as pea straw, granulated bark or compost. In spring this will conserve moisture and enrich the soil as it breaks down in spring whilst helping weed control.
- Roots of plants can freeze, so avoid the symptoms of wet feet by planting in free draining soil.
- Glass houses offer a degree of protection. Verandah eaves can provide overhead protection for pots and containers.
- Pots and container plant roots are unprotected and the simple application of bubble wrap around the outside of the pot can provide insulation.
At your local garden centre you should find many plants will be labeled with their frost tolerance capabilities. Take care to read these details and plant your garden accordingly. Then take the time to enjoy the crisp winter days and remember spring is really just round the corner.
Here at Gardening Solutionz our survival of the fittest over the winter months remains such proven winners as Hebe Emerald Gem, Viburnum Tinus, Euphorbia Kea, Euphorbia Tui, Phormium's Evening Glow, Black Rage, Jester and Yellow Wave, Libertia Taupo Blaze and the ever so stunning Corokia Frosted Chocolate.
As featured in Metropol Magazine July 2008
Congratulations to Suzanne Henderson who won a Hebe Emerald Gem and Julene Blay who won a Corokia Frosted Chocolate by entering our online competition in association with Metropol Magazine. Your plants have been couried to you.