When there is a frost, roots are unable to take up water from frozen soil and the water in the plant cells can freeze which causes damage to the cell walls. Both of these situations can cause limpness and blackened or brown leaves, even complete failure of the plant. Also, when the water in the soil freezes it expands, and when it thaws, it can leave behind an air pocket which means that plant roots are not stable in the soil and the whole plant can rock and of course, frost can then penetrate the air pockets causing further damage to roots. Instability (or frost heave) is more common with newly planted hedging but this is easily overcome by regularly firming in and watering well – so that the water carries soil to the air pockets.
So, why is autumn/winter/early spring (November to March) planting so popular?
Well, firstly it’s cheaper because bare root and root ball plants are available – here’s a link to the page on our website which explains how these growing methods are different to conventional pot grown plants.
And secondly, because winter is the time when plants are resting – they are not experiencing the physical stress of having to produce new spring growth, so it gives them a chance to establish their roots (even in winter the soil deep down is warm enough for root development) before the hullaballoo of spring.
A little reminder from Hedges Direct –don’t leave it too late to order bare roots or root balls – March is our busiest month for orders and our core team (plus helpers) work at 150% and still miss some telephone calls and aren’t quite as quick replying to emails as we’d like. If you know you’re going to want plants for delivery in March, please order a bit earlier (you don’t need to pay for them at that stage). This will enable us to give you the proper attention and advice that a new hedge deserves and means you’re also not running the risk that we run out of some heights or species.