Winter can be a tough time for plants in your garden. Even the hardiest of plants and shrubs can suffer when the temperature drops and the frost takes hold. So to make sure your plants and crops make it through the bleak midwinter, some well-chosen winter protection will come in handy.
In order to ‘overwinter’ your plants – that is, prepare them for survival over the winter – you’ll find there’s a wide range of plant protection to choose from. For flower beds and plant beds, an all-purpose roll of fleecing is a wise investment. This comes in synthetic materials, but you’ll also find natural alternatives made from fabric like hessian jute.
For delicate plants and crops, you may want to lay out this fleecing over a frame like a grow tunnel. And for taller, freestanding plants and shrubs, you might want to wrap them up in a fleece jacket, or invest in a protective cloche. We’ve put together a list of our favourite plant protection products below.
For more information on plant protection during the cold months, read our guide on how to prepare your garden for the winter. And for while you’re at it, why not take a look at our article on winter garden design from a Cotswold garden.
How to use protection fleece
Garden fleece – which is also known as horticultural or protection fleece – is a type of sheet material that will protect your plants in a variety of ways. In the winter, plant protection fleece will keep your crops and soil safe from the frost, wind and hail.
You may be tempted to use an old sheet of tarpaulin for the job – but this is unlikely to be very efficient, since plastic sheeting tends to be far too heavy, and will overheat your plants in the day and not insulate them sufficiently at night. Plant fleece, by contrast, is much more like actual fabric. Typically, it’s made of a synthetic material like polyester, but you’ll also find more natural alternatives available. We’ve included both in our round-up below.
Because it’s so lightweight, you’ll need to make sure you firmly anchor your fleece cover in place with stones or other weights. You can also rig it to a grow tunnel – again, you’ll find examples below.
Best plant protection and fleece for winter
Harrod Horticultural Garden Fleece
This general-use polyester yarn fleece can be rolled over your plant beds, and draped over larger plants too. Not only is it tear-resistant, but it’s also made with UV stabilisers, which means it won’t perish over time as quickly as other lesser-quality options. This comes in widths of 2m or 4m, each available in 10m, 25m or 50m lengths.
From £12.95, Harrod Horticultural
Gardening Naturally Heavy Duty Fleece Bag
For shrubs, saplings and larger plants, you’ll likely want to invest in a fleece bag, like this heavy-duty option from Gardening Naturally. It comes with a drawstring option that will ensure your plants are kept snug and wrapped up tight against the winter elements – for hanging plants, they can be used upside-down. This winter fleece bag is available in a range of sizes, and is machine-washable.
Heavy Duty Fleece Bag
From £9.99, Gardening Naturally
Tarpaflex Natural Hessian Jute Roll
Here’s an all-natural option in lieu of synthetic fleecing. Hessian jute will offer sound protection against the cold and frost, but is also – crucially – breathable, so your protected plants won’t start to rot with trapped moisture. This roll is 1.37m in width, and measures a hefty 46m in length – that should keep the vast majority of gardens sorted.
Natural Hessian Jute Roll
Haxnicks Small Easy Winter Fleece
If you have smaller plants that are in need of a spot of overwintering, then take a look at these mini-size polypropylene fleece bags, which measure 80cm by 60cm. Like those from Gardening Naturally, these also be kept shut with a drawstring – and in a non-essential but nice-all-the-same touch, they are a muted green colour, so won’t look too unsightly in your garden during the colder months.
Small Easy Winter Fleece
Gardening Naturally Aluminium Cloche Tunnel
If you’re concerned that plant fleecing might squash and damage your plants, then a wise option is to drape it over a cloche tunnel, like this aluminium frame from Gardening Naturally. It’s 68cm in height and 1.2m in width, and comes in a range of lengths from 1.2m to 6m. Best off all, in the summertime, you can replace the fleece material with netting to keep slugs, creepie-crawlies and other pests away from your plants and crops.
Aluminium Cloche Tunnel
From £29.99, Gardening Naturally
Gardening Naturally Thermacrop Garden Fleece
Here’s another type of winter fleece we like, this one made of woven strips of polyethylene that comes with a lifespan of five years, and will protect your plants down to temperatures of -3C. The mesh-like fabric will let light pass through to whatever’s underneath, whilst also providing ample insulation. You can pick this up in widths of either 2m or 4m, and in 1m, 5m, 10m and – should you need it – a gargantuan 200m in length.
Thermacrop Garden Fleece
From £2.02, Gardening Naturally
Haxnicks King-Size Victorian Bell Cloche
Haxnicks originally made glass cloches during the Victorian era in glass. These days, the plastic variant the brand offers is far more practical, but in their design they’re essentially the same – you simply avoid the risk of them shattering over your prize plants. These cloches come with a roof vent to prevent moisture getting trapped, and are marked as suitable for cauliflowers, cabbages and young courgettes.
King-Size Victorian Bell Cloche
Sarah Raven Grow Tunnel With Frost Cover
We’re big fans of Sarah Raven at Gardens Illustrated, which is why we wanted to list this grow tunnel, which unlike the other option on this list comes with a fleece. This is made of a lightweight fabric that still allows light to reach your plants, while the tunnel itself is made of a galvanised steel frame that measure 3m in length, with a height of 30cm and width of 45cm.
Grow Tunnel With Frost Cover
£16.95, Sarah Raven