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Overwintering: A Beginner’s Guide

Buying new plants can be an expensive process, especially if you have to repeat the process every year because your plants have died off over the winter months. However, some plants, including many a less hardy plant, can be successfully kept through the winter months with a little TLC, ready for next spring and summer. This is known as overwintering, and whether you’re overwintering seedlings or vegetables, there are ways to keep your plants going, ready for the return of the warmer months. 

Is overwintering vegetables possible?

Vegetables are not only at risk from the cold and frosty weather, they’re also at risk from small animals such as mice and rats who may find them a tasty treat during the cooler months when food isn’t in abundance! Cold frames can be used to grow vegetables in the winter months, and you may wish to give your vegetables some extra protection such as small hoop tunnels. You can also cover your crops with an extra layer of insulation, such as hay or a garden fleece, to protect them from the cold.

Of course, some vegetables, such as root vegetables, are very happy in the ground in winter months. But by adding a hoop tunnel, you might be able to successfully overwinter leafy veg such as spinach, kale and broccoli, too. 

Can seedlings be overwintered?

Overwintering seedlings and tender plants is possible, and is best done in a spot of warmth. Generally, most seedlings will only be tiny at this stage, in which case you can place them in small pots or a multi-compartment plastic tray, and they can be safely housed in the greenhouse, a heated conservatory or on a sunny windowsill over the winter months.

Be prepared to bring plants indoors at short notice; keep an eye on the weather in early autumn and move your more vulnerable plants and seedlings indoors when temperatures drop below 12–15 degrees or before the first frost. 

Can I overwinter succulents in my garden?

Succulents are hugely popular at the moment, and you may have invested a significant amount of money in them over the summer. Therefore, it’s important to try to keep them as healthy as possible over the winter months.

Some winter-hardy succulents such as Sedum, Agave and Yucca don’t mind a cooler period over the winter months, and you may get away with leaving these outdoors. However, it is advisable to move them indoors into a warmer spot if you can. 

If you have a rockery, it’s important to ensure good drainage of the soil. Your alpines and rockery succulents will often tolerate cold temperatures, but they don’t like having wet feet. Recreate the drainage that you would find on a mountain by including inclines to allow the water to drain off and stones for drainage. 

How to keep annuals over winter?

Once again, when overwintering annuals, it’s best to move plants such as geraniums, begonias, heliotrope and coleus indoors. There are many greenhouse overwintering options available for both big and small gardens, or if you don’t have the space for a greenhouse, you can move these plants indoors and enjoy them inside your home for the winter months instead. 

How to protect plants over winter?

Not sure how best to protect your plants over winter? Let D&G Garden World give you some winter gardening tips. As experts in landscape gardening services we can assess your garden plants ready for the winter months and help you to prepare those less hardy specimens for the colder weather. Get in touch to see how we can help your garden in Upminster, Hornchurch or Brentwood this winter.