When the colder weather hits, it doesn’t take much for your beloved balcony plants to start to wilt.
Let’s be honest, they weren’t getting much sun even at the height of summer because urban gardens tend to be overshadowed by other buildings.
So if you want them to come back next year, there are a few things you need to do.
Freddie Blackett, CEO and co-founder of plant delivery service Patch, explains that it’s just as important to care for plants in the colder months as it is in the summer.
He says: ‘As summer ends, it’s easy to think that the garden is done for the year. That’s not the case. All your plants are just entering a new phase.
‘For most plants, winter is a time for conserving energy, ready to spring forth anew in, well, spring. For some, winter is their time to shine. Whatever sort of outside space you have, this is a good time to start preparing it for winter.
‘Cut back dead or damaged growth on your plants and prune back any that have grown wildly over summer. Most plants won’t grow very much, if at all, during winter so now is a good time for a chop.’
Some plants can’t tolerate frost at all so it’s important to protect them.
Freddie adds: ‘You don’t want to lose your carefully tended plants at the first frost, so any warm weather lovers, like lemon trees, should be moved somewhere frost free.
‘You can move them inside, if necessary, but remember they only need to avoid frost; they don’t need to be moved somewhere really warm. Things like potted olive or bay trees could be wrapped in horticultural fleece to protect them from the harshest conditions.
‘Keep an eye on the weather forecast to make sure you do this before the first frost. It can sneak up on you.’
It tends to be wetter in winter too so you need to think about your plants getting too much water.
‘For pots left outside, consider raising them off the ground, e.g. lifting them on to a pair of bricks.
‘You want them to be able to drain very freely in really wet weather, as well as avoid them getting saturated with water that could freeze and seriously damage their roots,’ Freddie says.
Of course, there are some plants that still bloom in the winter and they can be used to add some colour to any outdoor space.
Freddie recommends a turf lily, which grows tall purple flowers throughout autumn and plants with attractive evergreen foliage. He also suggests adding some year-round interest with something like a Curly Red, which looks exactly as you’d imagine, with firey spiral leaves.
‘Winter can still be a beautiful time for your garden and if you put the work in, you’ll prepare it for a great burst of life in spring,’ he says.
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