Buyers’ Guide to mesh and fleece
Protect plants with the right fabric
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.
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”