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Alan's Weekly Garden Tips - Week Forty Nine

Published on December 12th 2019
by AlanGardenMaster (All rights reserved)
Red berries covered with snow
This week, I have a wide range of garden tips for outside and some for inside too. Be sure to check out my monthly calendars too for more handy tips .

Trees, shrubs and woody plants

  • Light pruning of some plants reduces 'wind rock' during winter storms. Prune about a third off plants such as Lavatera and Buddleja. But leave the hardest pruning until spring.
an autumnal tree being buffeted by the wind

How to Protect Your Plants Against the Wind


Tree Mallow

Lavatera spp.

A close up of some purple Buddleja flowers in a garden


Buddleja spp.

  • Deciduous trees - those that have lost their leaves - can be pruned now if they need it. Prune to improve the shape, and remove damaged branches or any that rub one against another.
  • Fork over flower borders and work slow-release fertiliser into the soil. Fish, blood and bone meal is suitable, but I prefer Vitax Q4, which is a more complete feed.
  • Top off borders with a weed-suppressing mulch of spent mushroom compost or chipped bark.
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Pots and borders

  • Move planted pots closer together so that they protect one another in cold weather. If you can move them to a south or west-facing aspect, this will also help protect them.
  • Remove saucers from underneath pots and ensure excess water can get away through the drainage holes.
  • Protect tender alpine plants from the cold and wet. In the wild, many are protected by several feet of snow. Snow not only protects them from a severe cold but also keeps them dry. Use a sheet of glass or a garden cloche.
Traditional Victorian cloches
  • If you have any digging to do, then grab every opportunity to get it done! Leave the ground roughly dug and don't waste energy now in breaking down lumps. Let the winter frosts break your soil down for you!
Rough dug soil left for winter frost to break down
  • Trim the dead flower heads off summer and autumn flowering heathers. A sharp pair of topiary shears (an excellent gift) is suitable for this. Trim a little of the shoot tips off as well to keep the plants compact.
Pruning summer flowering heathers back after flowering


  • Try growing air plants (Tillandsia and Bromeliads) in your home! These plants need misting over with a little lukewarm rainwater now and then.
Spanish moss air plants
Spanish moss air plants
  • On cold nights make sure that your indoor plants are on the room side of curtains. It can be surprisingly chilly on the wrong side!
  • Houseplants don't grown much in winter so reduce feeding to just fortnightly. They need less water too, so reduce that as well.

Greenhouse, conservatory and cold frames

  • Open the ventilators a little on mild days to encourage good air circulation and combat diseases. You will only need to open a little to get the air circulating!
  • Wash the glass with Jeyes Multipurpose Disinfectant and Cleaner to allow as much light in as possible. The days are short and often dark, which can make quite a difference to plant growth.
  • Try propagating plants by root cuttings. It is surprisingly easy to do, but not all plants can be multiplied this way. Try Oriental poppies, Phlox, some Primula, mullein, sea holly, bear’s breeches and Dicentra.
Download the free Candide App to get help and answers from a warm community of gardeners, including Alan!
Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play
Plant root cuttings being prepared in trays. image credit Howards Nursery
Root cuttings being prepared in trays. image credit Howards Nursery

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