Only wrap your palms before the cold weather begins (in Vancouver this is usually the middle of November) and remove it just before the weather warms up (in Vancouver this would be February). If one leaves the wrapping on too long you risk rotting the plants in the warmer weather of spring.
Palms do need protection for the winter when the temperature drops below –5 c. Even though the fronds can handle the cold, the problem occurs when the water inside the trunk freezes the new growth tips for the next year causing the ultimate death of the tree. Protecting your palms is a relatively simple procedure, which takes only a few minutes a year and will protect your plant in even the coldest of winter weather.
Pull up the fronds and tie them back. A simple rope or strong string is all that is needed.
Wrap a heat tape (they can be purchased at any building supply store) around the trunk- starting from the base of the plants – leaving the thermostat out at the bottom of the trunk. Make sure to wrap around the entire trunk up to and including the top of the trunk where the fronds are attached. A palm with a 4’ tall trunk should have a 15’ long heat tape to protect it.
Wrap the trunk with 3 to 4 layers of burlap making sure to tie it back with duct tape. Make sure that the thermostat for the heat tape is on the outside of the burlap. Wrap the whole trunk including the fronds if one has enough burlap. (If you live where there can be severe cold then wrap the trunk with bubble wrap or aluminum backed insulation for extra protection).
Once the trunk has been wrapped with burlap, re-wrap the trunk with plastic or shrink wrap (shrink wrap is the easiest to use and can bought at any stationary store). Make sure to wrap the entire palm including most of the fronds.
Once all of the above steps have been completed then plug the heat tape in and you are ready to go. The tape will only work when the temperature drops below freezing and will be enough heat to protect your palms for the winter months.
Caution: Make sure to plug only into a ground fault receptacle
(Musa basjoo) and Gunnera:
Prune the leaves off of the plant, using them to cover the base before adding some additional leaves for root insulation. If you would like to keep the stalk of your banana the height that it has grown to that year, place a wire cage—chicken wire is inexpensive and works well—loosely around the plant and fill with dry leaves or straw.
Give them a very light prune (unless they are climbers, then you can be a bit more aggressive) to prevent damage through wind rock on the root system. Mulch the base, covering the bud union, with composted bark or coarse peat.
Evergreen Broadleaf Topiaries
(Privet, Photinia, etc):
Once again, mulch the base of the plant with composted bark or leaf debris. If the weather turns quite cold, windy and dry, wrap the plant loosely with reemay cloth/crop cover to prevent dehydration of the foliage.
Vines (Clematis, Passion Flower, Kiwis,Jasmine etc):
Cover base with composted bark mulch or leaves to insulate the root system in severe weather. Even if the existing aboveground vines perish, the vine can regenerate from the root crown in the spring.
New Zealand Flax (Phormium):
New Zealand Flax detests cold, drying winds, and rot is often a problem. Cover plant with Reemay cloth/crop cover; it holds off frost, retains heat, and does not crush foliage. Remove snow as soon as possible if any falls. Phormium tenax ‘Atropurpureum’ is the hardiest of the phormiums, but even it can die right down to the ground from the cold. Often it will re-sprout from the roots in the spring. Make sure to mulch before winter.
If your cedars have grown substantially during the season & were not pruned, it is a good idea to prune the tops, sides & any hanging branches back prior to winter to prevent the trees from opening due to ice and snow accumulation. Regular pruning of any hedge will encourage dense, thick and stronger branches that will resist snow and ice damage.
Leaves will drop year-round from evergreen magnolias, even when in perfect health; so do not be concerned if you observe this. The branches are quite brittle, so make sure that any snow or ice accumulation is brushed off as soon as possible. Keep in mind that new growth and buds can be damaged by frosts, similar to damage observed in early-blooming deciduous magnolias. Stop fertilizing or pruning after July to October, and spread a layer of mulch 2-6” away from the trunk of the tree. To prevent damage from ice & snow, the trees can be wrapped with remay or burlap and tied with twine prior to winter.
Other tender plants…
There are many other tender plants that will have to be brought indoors or kept in a frost-free place such as a greenhouse. The following can’t be kept outside during our winters, so finding them a bright location indoors is the best idea to keep them thriving until the following spring.
- Tropical Hibiscus
- Citrus (Lime, Lemon, Orange)
- Elephant Ear (Colocasia)
- Tender Succulents & Cacti
- Angels Trumpet (Brugmansia)
- Red Banana (Ensete maurelii)
- Tender Palms