Prepare your Garden for Winter
01 November 2018 - by Rachel Bannon

Prepare your Garden for Winter


After the first frosts have blackened the leaves, lift the cannas, shaking off any loose soil and place in the smallest pot the rhizome will comfortably fit into. Fill gaps with compost. Don’t place in too large a pot. Lots of compost around the rhizome/roots may lead to rot.

Prepare canna for winter

Move the pot to a frost-free environment such as shed, garage, greenhouse, spare room. If there is a possibility that the building may not be frost free in exceptionally severe weather, wrap the whole pot in several layers of horticultural fleece, hessian etc. Do the same with pot grown specimens.

Prepare canna for winter

Now the trick is with the watering. They shouldn’t spend the winter in dust but must not be soaked. Keep barely moist. If you’re lucky enough to own a heated conservatory, take inside before the foliage is ruined by the frost and enjoy your evergreen plant through the winter months.


Before the first frosts dig up (usually around the time the clocks go back is good). Reduce the roots and shake off excess soil. Remove most or all of the leaves, especially if space is an issue. 

Stand the Ensete upright and place in a pot that snugly fits the root ball. Back-fill with compost and keep barely moist. Keep temperature at a minimum of 5 degrees centigrade. Don’t have a greenhouse? Spare bedroom, utility room will do. Sadly shed or garage usually results in failure.

Musa Basjoo

Don’t be in too much of a hurry to protect your Musa. The aim is to keep it under-wraps outdoors for as little time as possible to prevent rot. Protect after the leaves have turned brown and limp in the first frost. 

After many years of experimenting with different materials and techniques we’ve found the best way is to use chicken wire, horticultural fleece and straw.

Make a tube with the wire by folding it and stake with canes. Place this over the stem and stuff with straw.

Protect your musa basjoo for winter

Protect your musa basjoo for winter

Wrap with horticultural fleece to help keep the straw dry.

Protect your musa basjoo for winter

Place a plastic bag over the top to prevent rain getting into the stem.

Protect your musa basjoo for winter

We unwrap at the beginning of March but we first make sure we're not expecting any more severe frosts. Most frosts after this time will not be severe enough to damage the stem.


In late autumn the branches on brugmansia can be cut back and they can be lifted and potted ready for winter storage. They need to be kept somewhere frost free.

Protect brugmansia winter

Protect brugmansia winter

Tree Ferns

The tree fern is an evergreen plant, although in many areas of Europe it is likely that in winter, frost will 'burn off' the existing fronds and potentially damage the following season's growth. Hence, unless your ferns are in a frost-free environment, protection from frost is advised.

The best solution is to use horticultural fleece, straw or even fallen leaves to put into the crown.

Protect tree fern this winter

If you live in a very cold area or it is a very cold winter you may also wish to wrap the top 30cm of your tree fern as well to prevent the growing point from freezing.

Protect tree fern this winter

Do not cut off the fronds as unless it is a harsh winter the fronds will stay green. We would also recommend not cutting the fronds off even if they die and turn brown as these help to keep the crown of the fern pulled open. We have found that ferns which constantly have their fronds cut off every year tend to get smaller crowns which taper in and produce smaller fronds.

It is also important that the tree fern does not dry out especially if the fern is in a pot. If you do need to water in winter make sure it is when the temperature is not likely to go below 1°C.

If you have young or very small tree ferns they should be kept in a frost free environment just to be safe. 

When the last frost is gone and before the fronds start to unfurl remove your winter protection to avoid hindering the growth of new fronds.

Of course, everyone will find their own way and this is really just a guide and not definitive. There are many ways to protect your beloved exotics. This is a good starting point but there is nothing wrong with using your own improvisation. You can find full care instructions for all of these exotics at our FAQs HERE.
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View Comments 1 Comments

Direct Link to this Comment Isabel Hewitt-Parkings - 03 November 2018 16:48
What a brilliant day! Very informative and having this article as a reminder is really helpful. I’ve learned a lot from the brilliant staff at UJ. Thanks guys 👍

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