Will snow kill your garden plants? Here's Monty Don's hot take on snow damage

Parts of the UK are bracing for snow and wintry showers – but will it kill your garden plants?

Exterior of snow covered house decorated with xmas tree, fairy lights, & lanterns .
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Will snow kill your garden plants? While plenty of romantics are already dreaming of a white Christmas, many gardeners are less enthralled with the idea of the white stuff hitting their garden.

We get it, of course: very heavy snow can, after all, cause damage outdoor structures and break branches if precautions aren't taken – and let's not forget that it can turn even the very best garden path ideas into dangerous slip 'n' slides, too.

Is snow really as bad for our gardens as our worst fears would have us believe, though? Not according to Monty Don, who has... well, who has something of a hot take (sorry!) on the subject of snow damage.

Will snow kill your garden plants?

It's official: the Met Office has warned of a 'potential snow event' by the end of this week, alongside widespread overnight frosts and foggy mornings.

The big question on most people's lips, though, is this: will snow kill our garden plants? Because, while we already know how to protect our plants from killer frosts, snow is... well, snow is different.

Monty Don wearing navy jacket and smiling

(Image credit: Getty / Colin McPherson / Contributor)

Monty Don – who has previously helped us suss out how to ripen green tomatoes and how to take cuttings – isn't as fearful of snow damage as you might expect. In fact, he's pretty chill (ha!) about snow in general.

'Snow does very little harm to most garden plants,' he tells Weekend Magazine, adding that it actually 'acts as an insulating blanket against icy winds.'

Close-up of purple pansies as they flower over the winter months

(Image credit: Getty Images)

So, will snow kill your garden plants? Well, Monty goes on to note that 'hardy plants can withstand very cold snaps, down to -15°C or so, and can survive weeks of temperatures around -5°C'.

'Half-hardy plants such as penstemons, salvias and many camellias do not, as a rule, tolerate temperatures below -5°C but can cope with the odd touch of frost; tender plants such as basil or zinnias will not survive below 5°C.'

Christopher O'Donoghue, one of the co-directors at Gardens Revived, agrees with this, explaining that 'it's not the snow, but the cold and ice that harm plants'.

Christopher O'Donoghue, one of the directors of Gardens Revived
Christopher O'Donoghue

A gardener with over a decade of experience under his belt, Christopher set up Gardens Revived with his brother, Andrew, in 2018  to create a thriving family business. Together, they have worked on residential gardens, listed buildings and gardens, flower shows and large estates with some exceeding 70 acres – many with historical significance.

The best way to protect your tender plants, Christopher explains, is to embrace overwintering, aka the gardening technique that can save your flowers from icy climes.

'It's also a good idea to wrap container plants in bubble wrap or this heavyweight garden fleece from Amazon,' he adds, 'and to group them together – ideally in a dry, sheltered spot.'

Japanese Style Back Garden Covered in Snow

(Image credit: Getty Images)

'Heavy snow can cause branches to break, so try to get outdoors and very gently shake it off with your hands as it starts to build up on branches,' continues Christopher. Frozen branches can be brittle, so be careful!

'It's also an idea to prune hedges so that they taper at the top, as this will also help to minimise snow damage,' he finishes, noting that it's a good idea in particular to cut buddleja back on a frost-free day in the late winter.

Will snow kill your garden plants, then? Not if you make like the Scouts and prepare for the white stuff before it hits, it seems. 

Everyone, then, to your gardens, and be quick about it: we don't have long before this alleged swirling whirling snowstorm hits...

Kayleigh Dray
Acting Content Editor

Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.