Frost! Stop feeding pot plants and cover those tender courgettes!

First published by Rattan Direct on 23 September 2016.

The first frost often comes in October and it kills lush and tender growth. Time to stop feeding plants in pots and containers. Time to wrap up your courgettes to get a few more weeks of vegetables from them.

Pelargoniums high above the Hebden Water valley, Calderdale. Frost
Pelargoniums high above the Hebden Water valley, Calderdale. These tender plants are in the porch, safely out of the frost.
© Copyright michael ely and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence.

Hard to believe

After some glorious September weather in many parts of the country it’s hard to believe that cold and frost could be just around the corner. It won’t affect everyone straightaway and those of us who live in sheltered western places or warm cities may, perhaps, escape entirely. It’s hard to know. As always, the British weather is predictably unpredictable! Very frosty one year, not very frosty at all another year.

Weigh up the risks and take precautions. Yes, frost on frozen plants can look lovely but a great deal of damage can be done when they defrost. Ask yourself whether you prefer green plants or plants blackened with frost?

Stop feeding plants in pots

Feeding plants in pots promotes lush new growth and flowers. That’s great during the spring to autumn growing season but no good at all when growing stops in the late autumn/winter.

The lush new growth and flowers of your pot plants are all very attractive indeed to the cold fingers of Jack Frost. He wraps his fingers around your plant and it all turns black. Result: you have a very unattractive (possibly dead) plant.

So have a look at your outside pot plants. Stop feeding them now, tidy up any dead leaves and flowers, and allow them to toughen up a bit before the first cold snap.

Protect courgettes

Congratulations if your courgettes have made it through the challenges of slugs, snails, mildew and rust!

Congratulations if you’ve been picking your courgettes regularly and none has turned into a marrow!

There’s every chance you’ll be able to harvest courgettes on into October except … they’ll have to be protected from the frost.

Courgette plants. Frost
Courgette plants
© Dinkum and made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

Courgettes are big and sprawling plants. Horticultural fleece can be thrown over the whole lot. Remember to weight it down as autumnal gales are also on the horizon! Otherwise, put a cover or protective packing around the base. You could use compost, leaf mould, straw, hay or bracken.

I don’t mind Jack Frost

I don’t mind the arrival of Jack Frost. The sharp, crisp air in the morning can be a bit of a relief after hot and muggy days. But I must take the time to prepare for him.


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