tender plant care

Tender Plant Care for Autumn

It’s coming up for the time of the year when tender plant care. Look out for clear, calm skies and falling afternoon temperatures: the ideal conditions for frost.

Cover frost-sensitive plants and check out these tips:

  • Containers
  • 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.
  • 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.

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.

  • Place potted succulents under eaves to protect them from cold nights.
  • Spring vegetable seeds can be sown earlier if they are sheltered from the cold. Place young seedlings in a protective greenhouse.
  • Move potted plants to a sheltered area, closer to the house. Water the soil thoroughly and cover with frost protection fabric.

Frost-resistant edibles

There is a wide range of tasty edibles that are resistant to frost, including broccoli, cabbage, calendula, carrots, chives, leeks, peas, radishes, spinach and Swiss chard.

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.)

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.

The Gardener