Balcony winterproof

Don't forget: Make your balcony winter-proof with these five tips

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The days are becoming shorter, the nights longer and colder. To put it simply, winter is coming and it is time to make your balcony winter-proof. During this time, it is not just your plants that need protection from the cold.

1. Insulating your pots

Hardy plants such as delphiniums, peonies, phlox, boxwood, heather and Christmas roses usually survive well during frosty spells. At least, this is the case if they are growing freely outdoors. When they are planted in pots however, things can get a bit tricky. The reason for this is that when these plants are in pots and boxes, they are only surrounded by a relatively thin layer of soil. When temperatures really drop, there is a risk that these plants will die as a result of frost if they are not properly insulated.

You can prevent this by wrapping your pots in a suitable material. A good option for this would be bubble wrap, for example. The air pockets in the bubble wrap protect the plant pot. The more layers you wrap around the tub the better. But be careful — bubble wrap is not breathable. If you wrap it around the plants too, it could damage them. In this case, a safer option is to insulate plants using natural materials such as:

  • Reeds
  • Wool
  • Jute
  • Coir fibre

These materials can also be used to preserve potted plants during the cold seasons. However, they are not as durable as bubble wrap and some can decay after just one season.

It is important that you ensure that the drainage holes in the pots are always kept free from obstruction in all cases. If the drainage holes become blocked, they can freeze shut and under certain circumstances this can lead to water-logged soil. This can happen particularly quickly if pots are placed directly on the ground. You should therefore ensure that there is some distance between the pots and the ground. For example, you can put blocks of wood, polystyrene or ceramic feet under the bases of the pots. However, with pots made of terracotta or clay this is pointless, as they cannot survive the icy temperatures. It is better to put containers of this type in an area that is free of frost. Incidentally, if you want to make your balcony winter-proof, you must continue to water your plants regularly (every two to three weeks) even during winter.

2. Preparing sensitive plants

Any plants that are not suited to cold temperatures must be treated very differently to hardy varieties. This is because they can originate from warm, Mediterranean regions. These types of plants must be moved to an area that is protected from the cold. However, there are some measures you need to take before doing this.

Some of which start as early as autumn. From autumn onwards you should begin to water these plants less and less in order to avoid moist root bales. It is also advisable to trim off any withered leaves or flowers. This means that the plants have to use less energy to grow. Pruning can be more drastic depending on the variety. Another measure that should be taken in advance is to search the plants that you are planning to move for signs of pests and remove them if necessary. Otherwise, these pests could also damage other plants in the winter season.

3. Finding the right place for overwintering

An important deciding factor is the temperature, which should be between five and ten degrees Celsius. Those plants that prefer to sleep through the winter also need sufficient light and fresh air, depending on their basic requirements. Such conditions could be found in a moderately heated guest room, for example. Heated living rooms are somewhat less suitable. A possible exception is the bedroom. These are likely to be quite cool at all times of the year.

Plants that naturally lose their leaves in winter are less demanding. At least when it comes to the amount of light they need. As they stop photosynthesis during winter, they do well in dark places such as an attic or a cellar.

Balcony winterproof

4. The end of the hibernation

Once you have mastered the task of making your balcony winter-proof and have managed to care of both delicate and hardy plants, at some point it will of course be time to put everything back again. Once there is no frost for a few days and nights (no earlier than that) pots that stayed outside during the winter can have their "winter coats" removed and sensitive plants that were brought inside can return to their place on the balcony. With these, you should ensure that the minimum temperature is suitable for each variety so that they do not suffer in the cold weather. As a precaution, you should cover particularly flimsy plants at night with a plant protector.

In most cases, plants need several days to acclimatise to the change of location. As a result of this, it is better not to put them straight into direct sunlight or strong wind, but rather to initially put them outside for a few hours at a time.

5. What about the balcony furniture?

Outdoor furniture is usually made from fairly robust plastic or wood, so you can leave it outside in the wind and harsh weather without worrying that it will collapse underneath you in the spring. However, it does not hurt to look after it in the colder months. There are various ways to both clean and protect the surfaces of chairs, stools and tables. This makes them shine again and freshens up their appearance.

Plus, since they are not used during the cold period, there is also the option of putting them in the cellar, for example, to protect them from the effects of any harsh weather. If you choose to leave your garden furniture outside, you should at least cover it. There are also suitable protective covers and sheets that are designed for precisely this purpose. It is also important that air can circulate under the covers, otherwise mould can start to grow.