Buy­ers’ Guide to mesh and fleece

Pro­tect plants with the right fab­ric

Garden Answers (UK) - - Contents -

BABY, IT’S COLD OUT­SIDE! It’s an ob­vi­ous state­ment at this time of year, but while you’re wrapped up cosy and warm in­doors, your plants out­side may be shiv­er­ing to death – lit­er­ally! While most hardy, evergreen plants can shrug off all the low tem­per­a­tures and frosts that win­ter can throw at them, even these tough­est of plants can be dam­aged by pro­longed win­ter weather or heavy snow. Those plants that are ten­der or only bor­der­line cold hardy could be strug­gling be­yond the point of sur­vival. For­tu­nately, it’s easy to give any plant some pro­tec­tion quickly, sim­ply and cheaply.

Lit­tle life­savers

Hor­ti­cul­tural fleece is an in­dis­pen­si­ble plant life­saver, so it’s best to keep a sheet or two to hand. Just as our own fleece jack­ets pro­tect us from the cold, this polypropy­lene fab­ric will pro­tect plants, de­fend­ing them from low tem­per­a­tures and strong winds, frost and even hail. As it forms a phys­i­cal bar­rier, you can also use fleece to keep in­sect pests away from plants and so help pre­vent in­fes­ta­tions. It can even pro­tect the sen­si­tive fo­liage of shade­lov­ing plants from the scorch­ing ef­fects of strong sun­light, so can be used in green­houses and frames as a shad­ing ma­te­rial. Nor will the plants over­heat in hot weather. Un­like rigid poly­thene cov­ers, f leece is por­ous so it won’t en­cour­age sweat­ing or the high hu­mid­ity that can lead to fun­gal dis­eases. Lightweight fleece is sur­pris­ingly strong, and easy to cut with scis­sors into any de­sired shape or size. You can drape it over plants, or sup­port it above their fo­liage with bam­boo canes or wire hoops. This will pre­vent the leaves touch­ing the fleece and be­com­ing frosted. Some fleece prod­ucts have a re­in­forced or strength­ened edge which makes them eas­ier to peg down, with less risk of it tear­ing in windy weather. When us­ing fleece to pro­tect against in­sect pests, make sure the plants are pest-free, then bury all the edges in the soil, or tie it se­curely around the plants to pre­vent the in­sects getting un­der­neath.

“The fab­ric’s poros­ity means plants won’t over­heat in hot weather”

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