Many of us will be worried by recent weather events and how they will affect our gardens and more specifically the plants in them. Here at Notcutts we have put together a few guidelines to help gardeners deal with the aftermath.
Don’t be too quick to condemn plants in the spring. Just because a plant hasn’t begun to grow away doesn’t mean that it won’t. Cold and wet conditions through winter will mean a ‘late spring’ while plants recover from the shock of sitting in soggy soil for a long period of time.
Be patient – as the days get longer and the temperatures warm up most of your plants will be coaxed into growth.
Plants that have been under flood water for a few days will probably recover once the water recedes. Plants that have been under water for a longer period of time may not, but this depends on the type of plant. Rock plants, alpines, fleshy leaves plants and those with silver leaves generally prefer drier conditions and will be the first to succumb to too much rain and a lack of drainage.
Once the water recedes, gently remove any flood debris from your borders to allow light and air around your plants. Remove leaves, silt and soil from on top of the plants but don’t cut back any dead looking growth for the time being.
Later in spring, once signs of growth are seen, towards the end of March and into April, apply a general fertiliser to your borders to replace the nutrients that have been ‘leached’ from the soil by excess water.
Plants in containers are easier to deal with – the pots can be moved to a sheltered part of the garden or the lea of the house to prevent them being hit by the worst of the rain. Pot feet are a great way of raising your containers off the ground to help with drainage.
Lawns will look very yellow as the grass roots recover from sitting in soggy soil. Try not to walk on your lawn unless you really need to – put boards down to walk over and remove them each day to stop excess wear on the grass below.
Towards the end of February or into March, aerate your lawn if it’s still soggy by making holes in it and filling these with sharp sand to help improve the drainage. You can hire an aerating machine or use a garden fork, pushed into the soil and wiggled back and forth to make the holes. Spread the sand onto the grass and use a stiff broom to brush it into the holes.
Plants that have had branches broken in high winds should be pruned to remove the damaged pieces. Leave any other pruning until new growth is seen in the spring – it’s easier to prune back to healthy shoots then and there will be less chance of die back occurring.
For now, it’s worth checking that tree ties and stakes are correctly positioned in case of more high winds. Check fences and trellis as well and shore up or replace any loose posts as a preventative measure.
Finally, remember that Nature has an amazing way of putting things right and most plants – even garden plants – are much more resilient than we often realise!