The best plant covers to protect your garden from frost

What the experts use to insulate their plants in winter

Garden and lawn covered in frost
(Image credit: Getty Images)

During the colder months there's always a chance that frost will form, making paths slippy, water frozen and endangering our planting. Stop the negative temperatures from destroying all the work you've put into your garden by making sure you know the best plant covers for winter.

Throughout cold and frosty days in your outdoor space, you need to be thinking about season-specific winter gardening ideas to make sure you're giving your plants everything they need.

'If the plant is slightly vulnerable, the pot may need protection to possibly prevent the pot from cracking but more importantly the roots of the plant,' warns Mark Sage, managing director of Marshalls Gardens

Part of the process of overwintering, there are various winter plant protection covers out there. Our gardening experts say these are the best ones to use to give your garden the strongest chance of survival comes rain, frost or snow.

The best plant covers for winter

Garden and lawn covered in frost

(Image credit: Getty Images)

‘Generally, you should start thinking about covering plants for winter before the first frost hits,’ says Jack Sutcliffe, co-founder of shed manufacturer, Power Sheds. ‘It's beneficial to protect more delicate plants when temperatures start dropping below freezing or when there's a forecast for extreme cold weather.’

Keep an eye on the weather forecast and when the thermometers are hitting around 0ºC you should have your covers on or, at least, ready to go. Now let's find out what exactly we should be using as plant covers for winter...

1. Horticultural fleece

Horticultural fleece is quite a versatile plant cover, perfect for protecting an olive tree in winter as well as tomatoes or dahlias. 

'Use horticulture fleece/fleece jackets as these are made of a specialist material that will allow daylight through during the day to avoid the plant being covered up and in the dark,' explains Gavin Shaw, category manager at Marshalls Gardens.

'Fleece jackets are available in different sizes and often with clips and ties to ensure a snug fit and not to be blown off by the wind,' continues Mark from Marshalls. 'They can also be fitted on and off quickly so don’t need to be in place all the time.  As soon as you see its going to be cold you can quickly whip out and protect those vulnerable plants.'

'The more traditional way is to wrap the plants with dry straw and then cover with a plastic bag, but I much prefer the modern fleeces as they are so quick and easy and save me picking straw up for months around the patio!'

‘This is great for frost-sensitive plants such as tomatoes, peppers, fuchsias, dahlias, canna lilies or begonias,' adds Steve Chilton, garden expert at LeisureBench.

2. Mulch

Tree with mulch covering base

(Image credit: Getty Images)

One of the best ways to protect your plants is with mulch - it seals warmth, moisture and keeps the roots nicely protected. You can use specialist mulch, compost, soil, wood chippings or even leaves.

‘One of the garden's most adaptable plant protection techniques is mulch,’ agrees Jack. ‘Applying a thick layer of mulch around the base of plants helps to insulate the soil, maintain moisture, and protect the roots from freezing temperatures.’

3. Burlap wrap

Burlap is a natural, breathable material that’s perfect for wrapping around young trees, shrubs and perennials to protect plants from frost.

‘Burlap or frost cloth helps provide insulation and protection against freezing temperatures while allowing some light and air to penetrate,’ advises Jack from Power Sheds.  

'Old onion sacks or hessian is a great option too,' adds Mark from Marshalls.

4. Sheets

In a pinch, grab some old bed sheets and head out into the garden. 'When choosing materials to cover your plant, lightweight materials are best,' explains Andrew White, garden expert at Rhino Greenhouses Direct

'We recommend covering plants with materials such as burlap, as it is a natural breathable option for the plant, however we understand that not every household has burlap lying around, therefore old bed sheets and pillowcases also make great covers for plants.'

'If you have a row of plants needing protection you could always use a piece of fabric such as an old bed sheet to place on top for cover,' suggests Chris Bonnet, founder of Gardening Express.

5. Bubble wrap

Potted pants wrapped in bubble wrap

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The benefits of plant covers lay in their ability to insulate the plant in question, and few things are as insulating as bubble wrap.

'Environmentally friendly bubble wrap is a go to option, but you can use just about anything,' advises gardener Sarah Raven. 'I always make sure to wrap the pots too, as they can crack if it gets too cold.'

Your greenhouse can benefit from a little wrapping, too. ‘Greenhouse bubble wrap works as an insulating layer so that your greenhouse retains more heat than it otherwise would,’ says Jack from Power Sheds.

6. Cloches

Terracotta cloches covering plants

(Image credit: Getty Images)

‘An upturned basket or a metal or bamboo cloche will help keep the wind and rain off smaller plants that are young, tender or vulnerable to being eaten,’ advises Fiona Jenkins, gardening expert at ‘These are great for things like strawberries, winter veggies and roses.’

If the frosts approaching and you can't get to the shops and even Prime would take too long, you can create some makeshift alternatives. 'A few little hacks could include drinks and milk bottles,' suggests Mark from Marshalls. 'Cut the bottoms off and push into the ground over smaller plants.'

'It’s also worth upturning flower pots to keep them covered,' adds Chris from Gardening Express.


How do I protect my plants from frost in the UK?

'It may seem simple, but one of the best ways to protect your plants from the frost is to cover them,' explains garden expert Andrew from Rhino Greenhouses Direct. 'By placing a physical cover over your plants, you are not only helping to keep the frost away from your plant, but helping your plant retain heat.'

When covering your plant, ensure that the covering reaches the ground, making sure that there are no gaps for the frost to get in! Use supports, such as stakes, when opting to cover your plants, to create a structure similar to a tent and ensure that the covering is weighted down, to ensure that no cold airflow can enter the structure.'

'Ensure that any coverings are removed from your plant during the day, to allow your plants to soak up the winter sun and to minimise your plant from overheating.'

What materials should you avoid for plant insulation?

It's best to stick to breathable, natural materials when possible. 'Make sure to stay away from plastic covers though as while they might seem like an easy fix, they can actually cause more harm than good as they can trap moisture and promote the growth of mould,' says Jamie Jones, founder of, Open Space Concepts

What do you cover small plants with to protect them against frost?

Building a structure for smaller, delicate plants is one of the best ways to protect them.

‘Building structures like A-frames or small tents using wooden stakes and coverings can shield delicate plants from harsh winter conditions,’ Jack recommends.

How do you protect large plants from frost?

'For larger plants in the garden the fleece jackets are a great idea,' explains Mark from Marshalls Gardens. 'Sometimes a few bamboo canes are a great idea to produce a bit of a wigwam shape. If it was to snow, this would help to stop the snow from lying on the plants and keep the weight down too to prevent breakages.'

'If the plant is big enough try to secure to the ground around the plant rather than the trunk, as this will also allow a little warmth from the ground to move upwards.'

So with just a little effort you can ensure that your plants stay unaffected from frost and make it through to spring without hassle.

Sara Hesikova
News Writer

Sara Hesikova has been Ideal Home’s News Writer since July 2023, bringing the Ideal Home’s readership breaking news stories from the world of home and interiors. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors. She feels the two are intrinsically connected - if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.

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