Gardening: Protect your plants from late frosts – things to do in your garden in May
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There are many essential gardening tasks to do in May, and protecting your plants more late frosts is one of them. Luckily, there are many steps gardeners can take to ensure that their plants do not get damaged by frost.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has outlined tasks every gardener should be doing in their garden in May, including protecting plants from frost.
Some plants already have natural mechanisms to protect themselves against frosts, such as using sugars and amino acids to lower the freezing points of their cells.
Or sometimes bark can insulate water-conductive tissues to prevent them from freezing.
When plants are damaged due to frost, sometimes it can take months for its impact to be known.
The RHS recommended checking your plants for frost damage symptoms throughout the year.
If tender young growth is damaged by spring frosts, they can develop pale brown patches between their leaf veins.
Leaves of hardy evergreen plants can also be scorched by frosts and turn brown, which may eventually lead to the death of the plant.
As for blossom and young fruits, frost can cause a corky layer to form at the flower end of the fruit, and this may lead to few or no flowers forming.
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However, the RHS has listed ways that gardeners can prevent their plants from getting damaged by frost.
A simple tip is to choose plants that are reliably hardy and suited to all weather conditions.
When sowing plant seeds, make sure to avoid locations where frost is most likely to develop – choose warm sunny spots, such as against a south-facing wall.
During spring when frost is still present, cover your plants with a double layer of horticultural fleece or other suitable materials.
When frost is forecast, you can also move container-grown plants to a sheltered part of your garden and provide them some extra protection by wrapping the pot in bubble wrap.
Some wrapping examples include banana skins and tree ferns.
To protect fruit and strawberries, the RHS recommended packing them with bracken or straw.
With tender bedding plants, keep them indoors until frost has passed, just to be safe.
Frost usually passes in late May in the south of England and June everywhere else in the UK.
If your plants are damaged by frost, there are ways to treat them.
If no more frost is expected, prune the damaged growth, cutting it to an undamaged sideshoot or bud.
After pruning, the RHS recommended applying a top dressing of general-purpose fertiliser, such as Growmore, to encourage strong regrowth.
Lastly, the RHS emphasised the importance of not giving up on a plant that has been damaged by frost.
It said: “Many plants can be surprisingly resilient and may well rejuvenate from dormant buds at or below soil level.”
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