Determining if a plant will be hardy enough for your garden (or wherever you intend planting it) is far from an exact science.
It’s relatively easy for an average garden, as plant hardiness has been reasonably well established. But for the likes of town and city gardens, or rural frost pockets, the trouble is knowing not just your geographical climate, but also the microclimate of the planting area.
Things that can create a microclimate include aspect; exposure to sun, wind and rain; soil condition; proximity to a wall; or shelter from a tree overhead. All of these can affect plant hardiness in your own garden.
We’ve put together a guide that doesn’t try to be too specific, making it inaccurate, or too vague to be of any use at all.
Included in each plant description there is one of these terms – hardy, half hardy and indoor/conservatory. Below is a brief outline of what is meant by each term.
Hardy – The plant should be fine in all but the worst of situations, only prolonged very cold weather or exposure to strong wintry winds should be of concern.
Half hardy – The plant will benefit from a cosy sheltered position throughout winter. If potted consider placing undercover or in a greenhouse if possible.
Indoor/conservatory – The plant should be considered an indoor or conservatory plant. Will be fine outside during the warmer months from May to September, but must be inside for winter.
There is much you can do to improve a plant’s hardiness. Here are some suggestions for less hardy plants:
• Plant out in a sheltered spot, maybe near a wall or fence or under a tree.
• Generally, well drained soil is nearly always preferable to help to reduce freezing in winter.
• Mulching is another great way to help minimalise the soil freezing in winter.
• Protecting the plant is often achieved by wrapping the entire plant, or in cases the crown of a plant, with Hessian or horticultural fleece.