How to protect tender plants
Cannas, dahlias and pelargoniums (commonly known as geraniums) can be lifted and stored in a semi-dormant state over winter. Where lifting and storing are not necessary, then thick, dry mulch over the crown of non-woody plants may be all that is needed for winter protection.
See our advice on pelargoniums for information on overwintering these popular garden plants.
Cannas are lifted after the foliage has been blackened by frost:
- Cut back the stems 5cm (2in) from the base. These stems can be composted
- Use a fork to prise the plants out of the soil, taking care not to damage the roots or fleshy rhizomes
- Remove debris and loose soil
- Store them in trays of sand, coir or vermiculite, with the crown of the plant (where the stems join the roots) just showing
- Keep them just moist in a cold, frost-free greenhouse or conservatory
- Container-grown plants can be stored in their pots after cutting back
Dahlias are also lifted once the foliage has been blackened by the first frost:
- Cut off the old flowering stems 5cm (2in) from the base and trim away any thin roots. These stems can be composted
- Use a fork to prise the plants out of the soil, taking care not to damage, cut or bruise the tubers, as this can lead to rots developing in storage
- Remove the soil from the tubers by hand. Position them upside down in a cool place for a few weeks to dry off
- Label cultivars and bury in trays or wooden boxes filled with dry sand, soil or compost, leaving only the old flower stalks exposed
- Place the trays in a cool but frost free place, such as a garage attached to a house or a shed
Begonia tubers are lifted and stored in the same way as dahlias. Gladiolus corms can be lifted and stored like bulbs. See our bulbs page for further information on lifting and storing bulbs.
Protecting plants with mulch
Where lifting and storing are not necessary, a thick, dry mulch can be used for protection. In mild areas, cannas and dahlias can be overwintered like this, as can deciduous Agapanthus (those that lose their leaves in winter) and globe artichokes. The young shoots of lilies can be mulched to protect them from late spring frosts. The tender shrub Melianthus major can be cut back to ground level and then mulched for winter protection.
Suitable mulching materials include straw, garden compost, chipped bark or well-rotted manure. See our advice on mulches and mulching for further ideas.
Tender plants that can not be lifted and stored
These need to be wrapped and protected in situ. See our advice on overwintering tender plants under wraps for further information.