Back during the dry, arid temperatures of last summer’s heatwave, you probably knew to water your pots every day, even twice a day sometimes.
But now, as we wait for spring to warm things up again, many gardeners are likely wondering if they should continue to water their plants – and if so, how often they should be doing it.
We asked Marcus Eyles, horticultural director of Dobbies Garden Centres, to clear up any confusion once and for all.
What’s the advice for watering plants in your garden in winter – is it different from the summer months?
“It’s rare that you will need to water outdoor plants over the winter as we normally have plenty, or even too much rain,” says Eyles. “The only ones to watch out for are pots or planting in the rain shadow of a building structure, as these may be too sheltered from rain water. ”
Eyles says the easiest way to check the area around your plants is to see if the paving or border is wet, then stick a finger in the top of soil: “If soil is dry then give a moderate water, but avoid overwatering as too much will do damage,” he says.
What other things should people do to keep their outdoor plants alive when it’s cold outside?
“When planting, check the hardiness rating of your plants for the area of the country that you live in, and make sure it’s a suitable match,” suggests Eyles. “Keep an eye on changing temperatures too, checking the day and night time temperatures.” If the plant won’t tolerate that much frost, then Eyles says you should bring them into a protected place, like a greenhouse, porch or conservatory.
“If you can’t or its planted in the ground, then use frost protection fleece,” he adds. “Very cold winds are most damaging to evergreen plants as it burns the foliage.”
Are there any actions you should take when it snows in your garden?
“Snow protects and insulates plants roots, but it can cause damage to evergreen plants due to the weight of the snow,” says Eyles, who adds, “use a broom to knock the snow off to prevent this.”
Are there any other odd jobs you recommend people do in the garden in the winter months?
“It may not be the natural time you’d think to head outside and do some gardening, but there is still plenty you can be getting on with,” says Eyles.
“As we approach one of the busiest times in the gardeners’ calendar, planning ahead helps me to stay organised and keep on top of anything that might need repairing or replacing in the garden toolbox.”
Eyles says a few tasks include looking after wildlife by creating safe places to shelter, winter pruning of shrubs and trees and removing debris such as fallen leaves and snow off lawns to stop dead patches. You could also plant up a winter planter with primroses, pansies, violas and potted bulbs to bring spring into your garden as early as possible. “Winter gardening has a quieter, slower pace to it, which I think we can all learn to enjoy,” he concludes.