As the evenings are drawing in and the colder nights closer, some shrubs will need more thought than others. The hardy plants may suffer foliage damage or none at all. In areas of exposure the plant might suffer some wind damage and stems need cutting cleanly. Evergreens in extreme cold might lose leaves but they will survive and go generally unscathed. – 5 and under.
Photinias will provide autumn colour, Cotoneasters and Berberis (Barberry bushes) offering berries for wildlife. Virburnums are good as evergreens. In particularly cold areas they will lose their leaves but survive. These shrubs are good with pollution too. Camellias can be resilient to winter conditions although in severe situations they would prefer some protection.
The half hardy shrubs or near to perennials like Heuchera can be cut to the base once spent. The new growth when dormant might get frost bitten but in spring it will reappear as new. Lavender, although not a true perennial can classed as such and a shrub. It’s growth is above ground but often appears to look asleep at winter time. One specimen that is truly hardy and can withstand conditions others can’t are Cyclamens, providing autumn colour before spring. At times some specimens may need shelter by moving to a wall or coveted space along with added protection such a fleece.
Salvia’s are often perfectly ok in mild conditions although may need some insulation. Hydrangeas often suffer from leaf scorching and damage may occur, but in spring the shrub is cut to the first three 3 or 4 leaf nodes so that any dead material is cut off. This will help the plant not get too woody too. Geraniums will withstand some freezing conditions but not for a prolonged period. There may be some casualties but a good practice is to covet them with a fleece overnight in cold spells and then remove in the morning so the sun can get them in the day.
If there is dense foliage that is not decomposing, if it matters not aesthetically like with Hydrangea, Bergenia’s and Buddleja’s – leave it on until spring.
The tender plants are those that will withstand cold periods but not freezing. This includes cold snaps but not for a prolonged period. These may require indoor protection and after the frost has finished be kept outside. This usually is -1 to 5.
Most Roses are very robust while others need a little protection. Often applying mulch around the crown can insulate it and it retains its warmth. This can be said for all plants though and they will benefit from the nutrients of the manure or straw. Any good organic matter. Never put weeds in your compost. These will rot down but of course you will end up re-distributing your weeds!
Often in these conditions it’s not only the cold that will thwart the plant but the sun and wind which in turn dehydrates the leaves. This does the most damage. There are products called “anti-desiccants” that will help the plants retain its water. After a fall of snow, plants are said to benefit – it cocoons them.
Cordylines, often in containers, are a must to put in a sheltered position. They take very little to get damaged and can often be reduced to mulch.
A lot of plants of the tender variety will be perennials which will have been cut back and in their hibernation state. So containerised plants moved to a coveted spot is the key. By the house with that residual warmth seeping through!