General gardening topics

How to prepare and protect tender plants in winter

Last updated on March 24th, 2022

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There are container-grown plants, tender perennials, even specimen trees that can be damaged when a heavy frost presents itself. However, there are ways that you can protect your plants from damage in the winter so that they survive and you can prolong the harvest of the plants you have worked so hard to cultivate.

Remove snow from shrubs, trees and hedges to avoid broken branches

The first step is to physically remove the snow before it has a chance to freeze. When you go outside to shovel your paths, take a brush and literally hit the snow off your plants. This will prevent your plants from sagging under the weight of the snow, something that usually leads to broken branches. If you have mound-shaped evergreen shrubs, such as hebes, hedges, specimen trees, or anything in between, knock the snow off them so that they don’t suffer irreparable damage. This is something you will have to do throughout the winter and be mindful of when it is actively snowing so that you have an opportunity to remove the snow as quickly as possible.

Heat things up and move more tender plants and pots into a greenhouse

You can also protect your plants in the winter by literally heating them up with a paraffin heater, or simply moving them into a cold greenhouse as it will often be a few degrees warmer in there. Inside your greenhouse, you can line the structure with bubble wrap as shown in this guide and then integrate a good green heater for the most tender of your plants.

How to insulate a greenhouse

You can even use horticultural fleece or bubble wrap to create partitions or curtains dividing those plants that need to keep warm the most. Hang the fleece or the bubble wrap from the roof of your greenhouse and allow it to rest against the floor, then seal off the edges with tape so that you can focus the heater where it is needed most, keeping that small space heated, without breaking the bank in the process.

You can learn more about how to heat a greenhouse in this guide Biogreen PHX 2.8/GB Phoenix Electric Fan Heater 1.0/ 1.8 /2.8KW Biogreen PHX 2.8/GB Phoenix Electric Fan Heater available from

You can see some of our top recommended greenhouse heaters in this review

Give your plants some cover with fleece and mini poly tunnels

Another way to protect your plants in the winter is to simply give them a cover. If you have root crops like carrots or parsnips you can place a blanket of straw on top of them so that the ground itself doesn’t freeze. Doing this will help you to harvest later in the autumn when it’s appropriate, without having the issue of an early frost damaging your harvest. You can also buy miniature tunnels made from fleece or clear plastic.

Use a miniature tunnel or straw to protect plants in winter

Bring tender plants grown in pots indoors

You can also give them a figurative cover by moving them into a frost-free area like a heated greenhouse (as already mentioned) or a windowsill that faces south. This is particularly important for things like tender succulents such as aeoniums or aloe plants.

Wrap potted plants in fleece and pots in bubble wrap

If you have potted plants you should wrap the entire pot with bubble wrap or horticultural fleece. Secure the wrapping in place and allow it to remain throughout the whole of winter. This will prevent the roots from freezing inside the container. If possible ground them together and move them into a more sheltered area of the garden.

Wrap containers and pots with fleece and bubble wrap to protect them over winter

Don’t forget about the lawn

If you have a lawn, try not to walk on it in the winter, especially when the snow or frost blankets it. The more you walk across your lawn, the more likely you will damage the blades and break them with each step you take. Walking across a frozen lawn can also exacerbate compaction, which increases the risk of drainage issues and fungal diseases.

You can learn more about winter lawn care in this guide

Doing these simple things every winter can protect your lawn, your rooted plants out in the garden, even your container-grown plants.

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at

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