Don’t let Jack Frost nip your dahlias!
DURING a brief spell as a pistenraupe – someone who shovels snow onto ski-runs for a living – I found myself lost in the German Alps. Stranded in heavy snowfall I ended up spending the night outside on the mountainside in subzero conditions.
I say outside… actually, I stumbled across a deserted ski lodge and slept on a sofa. It was the amazing mountain rescue teams scouring the slopes while tearing apart snowmen in the hope of finding a wet and cold together and with winter around the corner this is worth remembering for plants as well as people. With cold-sensitive flowers, to dig up, or not to dig up is the question; but whether you leave in the soil or pot up and store, keeping the roots of tender fuchsias, dahlias, salvias, pelargoniums, bananas or cannas dry is the best way to keep them healthy.
If you lift them, store the roots in a dry shed or greenhouse and keep them on minimal rations of water until growth starts again in spring.
For plants in the ground, cover the crowns including the base of evergreen
agapanthus leaves with a generous 4-5in (10-15cm) twiggy mulch of bracken or bark.
If you don’t have any to hand, spread an old compost bag like a brolly over the roots and then mulch with compost to bury the plastic out of sight.
I found myself lost in the German Alps! With cold-sensitive flowers, to dig-up or not to dig-up is the question;