As your plants have slowed down during the winter, they might look a bit messy, or even as though they are dying, but don’t worry, they will rebound as we approach the Spring.
You can do a bit of tidying up in the meantime, this is what we would recommend:
1) Leaves covering the bottom of the plant where the stem meets the soil that have gone brown or wilted should be removed with scissors, secateurs or a knife to prevent them rotting and causing problems with harbouring diseases or causing mould and fungal infections
2) Woody stems that have lost their leaves can be cut down (if you think they are unsightly) to about 5cm above the soil level for most perennials. If you have penstemons, leave their stems and leaves intact over winter as this helps protect the plant from frost.
3) Don’t worry about the mess of plants during winter; this mess provides much needed shelter, hidey holes and food for wildlife.
4) If some of your plants have been so overwhelmingly happy that they’ve tried to take over the world and are crowding out others in the pot, you still have time to take them in hand. For example, violas could be divided into smaller clumps and planted into other pots or in a border if you are lucky enough to have a bit of garden space. They can also be trimmed back to a neat little mound to encourage new flowers. Plants that have got very large and bushy can be repotted into a larger pot. Avoid putting them on their own in a ginormous pot as they will probably sulk and struggle through the rest of the winter.
5) Don’t forget to check that your plants are not getting waterlogged over the last of winter. The combination of damp and cold can be fatal to even the toughest of perennials.
To avoid waterlogging, you can:
a) Move them to an area that is sheltered overhead either by buildings or other larger plants that can deflect heavy rainfall.
b) Lift the pot off the ground slightly so that the water in the pot can drain off more easily through the drainage hole. You can use anything to lift the pot up; old tiles, bits of wood, bricks, old baked bean cans or you can buy ‘plant feet’ which sit under the pot.
c) Bring tender (not frost tolerant) plants indoors next to a large window and away from heat sources (radiators, fires). Don’t forget to put a saucer under your pot so it doesn’t make a mess of your floor. An unheated conservatory or greenhouse is ideal.
6) Use this time to sort your seeds, ready to plant in early Spring. You can also buy Spring bulbs, and use evergreens such as ferns and ivy to spice up your outdoor space before the full bloom season is coming.
There are also some great winter plants available that will add colour and interest to your pots and borders. Spring is on the horizon with warmer, longer days and better times coming right up. Use this time to plan your pots, window boxes and borders so when Spring arrives you are ready to make the most of it. Let us know if you need any more specific plant tips by contacting us on our live chat or at [email protected].