Don’t let Jack Frost nip your dahlias!

Amateur Gardening - - Contents - Toby Buckland

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;

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