Cloche is a French word that means ‘bell’, with traditional cloches being bell-shaped and made of glass or sturdy, transparent plastic. Today, there are many forms of cloches, each catering to specific needs of different plants and gardens.
Cloches are like little greenhouses, providing protection to seedlings and young plants from strong winds, pests, and heavy rain. Cloches are generally meant to protect seeds or seedlings and will need to be removed or modified as the plant outgrows it. Seedlings that have soft stems and leaves benefit greatly from being grown in cloches.
In temperate countries, cloches are usually used to warm the soil and protect plants from frost. In hot, tropical countries like Singapore however, these warming properties are more likely to kill your plant rather than help it! This can be solved by providing ventilation holes to prevent mildew and fungi from attacking your plants, and to keep the plant cool during the heat of the day. The holes should not be larger than 5cm in diameter to prevent pests like snails from crawling in and eating your plants. Alternatively, the cloche can be made from wire mesh or netting to provide protection while keeping your plants well-ventilated.