Hardy importsExotic plants beat winter blues

02 September 2005

A new study by Gardening Which? has found many exotic plants can weather even a bitingly cold British winter - with the right care.

Many of the plants left out for overwinter testing - even in places such as chilly Glasgow - made it through unscathed.

Survivors included the woolly tree fern, the chusan palm, the dwarf palm and the olive.

But gardeners need to be careful which species they leave out in the cold as others weren't so lucky.

The hardiest of all bananas, the Musa basjoo, grows well in British gardens but was severely knocked back at some sites when left in the cold.

Gardening Which? Editor Julia Boulton said: 'Exotic plants aren't just for those lucky gardeners who have conservatories or heated greenhouses; many more unusual plants are now finding a place in our gardens and of course it's much easier if you can leave them out over winter.

'As long as you're careful about leaving out only those that can take it, it'll brighten many a winter garden to keep exotic plants' lush foliage on show during the colder months.'

Gardening Which? has some tips for getting exotic favourites through the winter.

Musa basjoo: wrap up with fleece or other breathable material, or pot up in the autumn and bring in for the coldest months.

Olive and mimosa: can be left unprotected, but choose a sunny yet sheltered spot.

Agave Americana: can be left outside unprotected but should be kept in a dry environment, preferably in a container.

Woolly tree fern: plant out in a sheltered and shady spot, and it can be left outside unprotected.