tender plant care

Tender Plant Care for Autumn

It’s coming up to the time of the year when tender plant care is a must! Look out for clear, calm skies and falling afternoon temperatures: the ideal conditions for frost. Here are some ways you can protect your plants from frost.


  • Move potted plants to a warmer spot next to the house or under cover on a patio, especially on the south side. Water the soil thoroughly (except around succulents). Wet soil retains heat better than dry soil, protecting roots and warming air near the soil.
  • Cover pots in bubble wrap to prevent soil from freezing.
  • Cluster container plants and, if possible, place them in a sheltered spot close to the house. You can cover the potted plants with frost-protection fabric
  • Whether your succulents are in pots or in the ground, try to keep them on the dry side. Plant cells that are plump with water are more likely to burst if the water freezes.
  • Place potted succulents under eaves to protect them from cold nights.

READ MORE: Take a look at some autumn-flowering plant options

Garden plants

  • Use an inverted flowerpot or bucket for tender plant care to cover them, or build a framework around plants and cover it with frost-protection fabric.
  • Spring vegetable seeds can be sown earlier if they are sheltered from the cold. Place young seedlings in a protective greenhouse.
  • Empty soda bottles can be repurposed as cloches to insulate newly planted seedlings in the garden. Mulch around seedlings to retain heat and moisture in the soil.

Frost-resistant Edible Plants

There is a wide range of edible plants that are resistant to frost and will grow well in the colder months. These include:

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Calendula,
  • Carrots,
  • Chives,
  • Leeks,
  • Peas,
  • Radishes,
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard

READ MORE: Learn more about why it is good to mulch your garden beds

These plants are sensitive to frost:

  • Tender plants such as avocados, fuchsias, bougainvilleas, begonias, impatiens, geraniums and succulents.
  • Edibles such as citrus trees, tropical plants, tomatoes, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, cucumber, okra, brinjals, corn and peppers.
  • Spring-blooming shrubs and trees such as cherries, azaleas and rhododendrons.
  • Tender perennials like cannas, elephant ears, caladiums and dahlias. (Before a killing frost, consider digging these plants up and storing them in a dry, cool place.)

The Gardener