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How to protect your garden during cold spells

A horticulture instructor says although many plants that thrive in the Lower Mainland are resistant to cold weather, some common plants that are more vulnerable. (Cathy Kearney/CBC - image credit)
A horticulture instructor says although many plants that thrive in the Lower Mainland are resistant to cold weather, some common plants that are more vulnerable. (Cathy Kearney/CBC - image credit)

As a mass of cold arctic air makes its way across the province, most of B.C. should expect colder-than-usual weather over the next week.

In the Lower Mainland, frigid temperatures are expected to last from Tuesday until Friday, according to Environment Canada.

And gardening expert Brian Minter from Country Garden Ltd. in Chilliwack says gardeners should prepare.

"I'm so concerned about many of the plants around our home right now," Minter said Friday on CBC's B.C. Today.

Minter says early spring flowers that people may have started to plant, such as daffodils, primroses, and pansies, are at risk.

"Winter is not giving up ... it's hanging right in there."

Minter warns gardeners not to prune their roses yet, as this shouldn't be done until the last cold spell is over.

"Pretty much everything in your garden, you want to take a look at, but the more tender items we need to look after them."

'Mulching, wrapping, and bringing plants inside'

Allison Luke, a horticulture instructor at UBC Botanical Gardens, says although many plants that thrive in the Lower Mainland are resistant to cold weather, some common plants that are more vulnerable include New Zealand flax, rosemary, redclaws, bay leaves, and citrus plants.

For vulnerable potted plants, owners can move them to a sheltered space, such as under a stairwell or even indoors in a landing.

For plants that are stuck in the ground, Luke recommends spreading over them a two- to four-inch layer of mulch–material used to insulate soil, such as wood chips or composted material like decaying leaves.

If gardeners want to be extra careful, a physical barrier can be created by wrapping the plant or building a tent around it with burlap.

Luke says some people put a string of Christmas bulbs around their plants to provide some extra heat.

"I think mulching, wrapping, and bringing plants inside are your three options that you have for cold snaps," said Luke.