Unwins Seeds

Protect your plants from winter rain

02 January 2014 | Posted in Gardening by The Unwins Family

If you have had very wet weather here are a few tips that might be useful to spot potential problems and limit damage to your plants.

Plants need water to survive but waterlogged roots can cause plants to literally 'drown'.
Take advantage of any lull in the weather to get outside and move vulnerable plants to drier conditions, especially those growing in containers.

At the moment we are lucky with the temperatures, some parts of the country are in double figures. But inevitably we will get cold weather with some minus temperatures and hard frosts and that's when wet soil becomes lethal to plant roots, and sometimes causes damage to the containers too.

Protect plants in containers
If wet soil freezes it expands and this expansion can crack terracotta pots. Bubble wrap any vulnerable containers.

Lift pots and containers off the ground with pot feet or position them on bricks. This will allow excess water to drain away from the compost more easily.

Make sure plants in containers aren't directly under an overflow or the run off from a roof; move plants to a porch or under the eaves to dry off and escape the worst of the weather.

Always make sure pots have good drainage with at least one drainage hole and add a layer of crocks in the bottom of the pot to stop the drainage holes from getting blocked with compost.

 It's only January so we have lots of weather to contend with before spring, keep a watchful eye on the forecasts and act fast to keep plants going until warmer days arrive.

Protect plants in the ground

If the plants in your garden are in waterlogged soil the problem is harder to solve, but there are some temporary measures to lessen the risk of damage.
Make a slit trench with a sharp spade to help excess water to drain away from the crown of vulnerable plants or tree and shrub roots. Make the trench away from the base of the plants and take care not to cut through the plant roots.

Ironically the symptoms of a drowning plant can be very similar to those of a plant suffering from drought ie. wilting leaves and brown stems. The cause is obvious when rain is falling but a large plant may well take a while to die; by which time the rain has usually stopped and the cause of death becomes a mystery.

Wet soil is muddy soil so try to avoid compacting the area, walk on boards if you can and wait until the soil dries out a bit before you dig or if you have dormant trees, shrubs or roses still to plant.

If your garden always floods in the same place consider installing drainage channels.

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