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Winter Care Help Needed!

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I am really hoping someone can help me.

I changed my garden and planted some plants (listed below) in August and last night it snowed. I live in Stevenage, Hertfordshire and we now expect it to snow more this year, however we didn’t expect it as early. I am not very green fingered but I want to try and ensure my plants last the winter and live so that I can enjoy them next year.

They have not been in the ground long, I only planted in August and so I need to know how best to care for them. This morning they were covered in snow, I removed as much as I could and I have covered them with black bags after advise from my neighbour but I am worried this will kill them! Please help!

I have recently planted the following:
Yucca Elephantipes
Phoenix Roebelenii Pygmy Palm
Cordyline Australis
Buxus Sempervirens Topiary
Phoenix Canariensis

Do I cover them? If so with what?
If I do not cover them, will they be ok with snow and ice?
Do I water them throughout the winter? Or not at all?

Thanking you in advance! x



Hi Shelley - let's go through your plants and see which need protection - and how.

Yucca elephantipes is not hardy and needs to be in a frost-free place inside - a conservatory or a slightly heated greenhouse. It needs a temp. of 10 degrees C.

Phoenix roebeleni is the same. 10 degrees C.

Cordyline australis is border-line hardy, so needs a double layer of fleece around it. NOT bubble wrap!

Buxux sempervirens should be fine - it's pretty tough.

Phoenix canariensis also needs 10 degrees C indoors or under glass.

Fleece is easily bought from a Garden Centre, and you can fasten it with butterfly clips or clothes pegs! Make sure you wrap it round double and leave no gaps.

As to watering, well, the ones in pots need some from time to time, but don't over-water or the roots will rot! The Box should be OK as it is out in the rain, but if there's a long dry period (some hopes!) give it a drink.

I hope they all survive. Good luck.

29 Oct, 2008



Thanks for getting back to me.

I have a bit of a problem as I wont be able to bring any indoors, maybe one of the yuccas but not both and I dont have a greenhouse! Hummmm.

I have a small shed but would this be too dark? It does have a window but it will be pretty dark as its dark early of an evening.

With the cordyline, should I put the fleece around the trunk as well as tying the leaves up and wrapping it around them too?

The phoenix is about 4ft and in the ground so not much I can do there.

29 Oct, 2008


Well, if you don't want to lose them, the shed AND some fleece sound like the best option if they can't go into a bit more warmth, after all they'd be in the dark anyway in the night! Try fleece and stuff straw into it as well to give another layer of insulation for the Phoenix in the ground. Are the rest in pots? If so, wrap bubble wrap around each pot as well to keep the compost from freezing. If the cordyline is in a pot, I would shroud the whole lot, trunk and all, in fleece to be on the safe side - and bubble wrap the pot as well.

29 Oct, 2008


Spritz. We rarely disagree but we have found one. Just a small one.

P. canariensis will stand -5C for a short period even when quite young. I know because I have a garden full of them. (Will post a picture or two on my page to show you.) My smallest ones have been outside for 3 winters, in Yorkshire even. They are about 2 feet high plus a bit and last year I didn't even fleece them.

Having said that, the ones we are considering have not been out long and won't have hardened off much so I would suggest putting some straw over then fleecing this year, then next year just fleece. The same for the pygmy date palm. If the C. australis is green then it should be OK just fleeced (again I don't even fleece my Red Stars after 2 years.) If red or variegated then straw as well as fleece. The yucca is less hardy and to be safe a cold greenhouse would do.

If it snows don't remove the snow once fleeced. It actually acts as an insulator against frost. Which is colder than snow. Those you leave outside don't water at all. The weather will take care of that.

We do of course agree, NOT bubblewrap. They are in the ground which is safer than pots but GET THOSE BLACK BAGS OFF. You will kill them.

Hey we could have a debate. My first on GoY. LoL.


29 Oct, 2008


You can have the debate with the RHS book, John - I don't possess any of the plants Shelley asked about! LOL

It is interesting that in practice some plants seem to be hardier than ref. books tell us - and the opposite, too!

Shelley, your neighbour was only trying to help, but black binbags are definitely a No-No!

29 Oct, 2008


Spritz. I think the RHS does some wonderful stuff but they are far too conservative when it come to exotics. A lot of these plants are far hardier than they say. I think a lot of their research was done around the time of the classic Victorian Christmas. I've put a few pics of P. canariensis and a couple of cordylines on my page. I think you will agree they are quite healthy even in sunny Yorkshire and none has ever been brought under glass once planted nor has any been lagged for more than 2 winters, often just its first one outside. Never lost one yet but I have saved a few in my plant hospital. LoL. If a cordy or or a canary palm should shuffle off its mortal coil (I mean my neighbours' of course) they can soon be nursed back.

29 Oct, 2008


I think that Shelley has come to the right place, John and that she will be re-assured by the advice you have given (and a bit by mine, I hope!) She hasn't told us where in the UK she is - I hope it isn't the far, far north! Even more north than you, I mean! LOL.

29 Oct, 2008


~ you can get 30 gsm fleece on ebay or from Haxnix the stuff you get at Wyevale is only 17gsm~ light does get through fleece but not through black bin bags!~

29 Oct, 2008


It is not just the light getting in, although that matters of course, it is the moisture getting out. Moisture is bad enough but a mixture of moisture and cold is fatal.


30 Oct, 2008


Hi all, thanks for the replies. I have just received the fleece I ordered. I got the 30 gsm one.

When should I wrap the plants thought? Since that one night of snow the weather has been good. Infact yesterday it was rather warm so I do not want to do it too soon but not so late that I get caught out and they freeze!

15 Nov, 2008


~keep an eye on the met office online~type in where you are and google~ie met office ,,,,, this will give you a forecast for the next 4 days so you should be able to see what is going to happen.
~if it is going to be quite mild unwrap and let them have some air but make sure you wrap up before the temperature starts to drop.
~if you have anything that needs to be lifted into a pot ,you can get a 4 tier mini greenhouse 6x4x2 roughly for about £20 online which if you can back against a warm house wall may even give you some residual heat tthrough the wall ~especially if theres a radiator inside and you don't have cavity wall insulation!
~best of luck!`

15 Nov, 2008


A very good site for weather forecasting is

I always use it in preference to the BBC.


15 Nov, 2008


~ I do too John~been caught out before by the BBC!~

15 Nov, 2008

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