Introducing "One Thing": A New Video Series, The Spruce Gardening & Plant Care Review Board, The Spruce Renovations and Repair Review Board, Insulating materials (such as mulch, straw, or leaves). The key to overwintering plants in containers is to prevent the soil mass from freezing and to maintain moisture in the soil throughout the winter. 2. Knowing the plant’s needs is the key to keeping plants over winter successfully. Spreading a layer of gravel at the base of your hole will facilitate drainage in the spring as the soil in the pot eventually thaws. Managing Garden Pots Before Winter. 3. When spring comes, lift your potted plant from the soil as soon as the ground thaws and new growth begins to appear (you don't want a buried plant to soak in water from spring rain any longer than necessary). Look for a spot that will stay in the range of 32 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit. And if the ferns are Boston Ferns, warmer temps are better for them as well. Cathy Askia is a Master Gardener and member of The Spruce Gardening and Plant Care Review Board with over 30 years of home gardening experience. Give Them a Drink. Storing dormant plants is one of the oldest and most time-honored practices of overwintering geraniums, and it’s fairly simply to do. There are several ways to do this. The key is to have an indoor spot with plenty of light. To raise the humidity around your plants, group them together, or keep them near the kitchen sink or in a steamy bathroom. However, as the temperature continues to drop, their roots might die unless they are protected. As such, cold hardiness of the selected rose cultivars is key. A technique that is sometimes successful is to move potted perennials indoors for the winter. Make sure your container is strong enough to last through winter. Storing your plants in a semi-dormant state is a gentler way to overwinter them, so it's a good option for younger plants that haven't had as much time to develop a strong root system. Lots of containerized plants can spend the winter inside if the temperature's 30- and 40-degrees Fahrenheit. Woody Plants and herbaceous perennials should be completely dormant or hardened off before covering for the winter. While some plants can survive light frosts, others will die for good as soon as their cells freeze. I personally don’t usually over-winter the original geraniums but take cuttings, again, rooting six or more in one wide pot in the house and then separating them into new pots in April. Summer Care – How To Save Mums. It's not necessarily low temperatures that kill plants over the winter, but rather the rapid swings between warmer and cooler temperatures that can stress the plant by thawing and freezing it. Since I planted these in 3-gallon nursery pots and then planted the pots in the containers, I can overwinter them in the pots inside, letting them go dormant but not die. Doing so with moderate the temperature swings and increase the likelihood of your perennials surviving the winter. If you apply that simple rule, you eliminate most of the problems of overwintering plants in pots. For example, if the standard recommendation is to mulch over a particular garden perennial for winter, do so with the buried potted plant. It didn’t cover hardy bulbs (tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses, garlic, etc.) Put the Pot into the Hole and Backfill With Dirt, Tips for Storing Tender Bulbs for the Winter, Tips for Fall and Winter Container Gardening, How to Take Care of Outdoor Plants in Winter, Hardy Chrysanthemum (Garden Mum) Plant Profile, 9 Great Foliage Plants for Container Gardens, How to Transplant Rosemary Indoors for the Winter. For example, a gardener in zone 5 can expect perennials rated for zone 3 or colder to survive the winter in containers. A second option is to overwinter the entire plant. Option two: Store in a cool spot that doesn’t freeze, like your garage. To do so, use chicken wire and stakes to form an enclosure around the plant, filling the silo with loose leaves or straw to help keep your plan cozy. Small potted fruit trees that spend the summer on a deck or patio can also live indoors for winter. Winter-flowering pansy. This works best if you’d like to plant a new tree in spring. If you can provide shelter to help insulate your container plants from temperature swings, your potted perennials will stand a much better chance of survival. All it takes is a little fall prep work to the fern, and a cool but protected space indoors to keep them going. Plastic containers are usually resilient enough to tolerate freezing, while certain natural pot materials, such as untreated terra cotta, readily absorb water, which can expand when frozen and end up cracking the pot. and for good reason: the same rules just don’t apply. 2. Choose a spot that is relatively shady—contrary to the belief that sunny is best, placing your potted perennial in a bright location can exacerbate any thaw-freeze cycle over the winter. 1. If I were a “normal” person, I wouldn’t have as many pots, but as an indoor and outdoor garden fanatic, it’s a way of life! Watering containers with needled and broadleaf evergreens such as hollies, boxwoods and ivy is essential in winter. In other words, if you live in zone 5, for example, only grow plants adapted to zones 1, 2 and 3 in pots, or, at the limit, zone 4. Freezing can be prevented by having a large soil mass in a well-insulated container or planter located in a protected area. If I run out of room for storing pots (which seems likely), I can also store the tubers in the same manner I store dahlias, after cutting the stems back to 6 inches or so. There, they'll be protected from any winds that can rapidly drop temperatures and will enjoy some heat radiation from the house. This makes it difficult to say exactly how to overwinter … Just don’t let the bottom of the pots sit in the water. You will simply have to do more than leave the pot … That being said, protecting your potted plants throughout the cold winter is not always easy—even species that are technically cold-hardy in your area may experience harsh conditions they can't tolerate and many species that survive the winter just fine when planted in the ground can die in containers without the proper care. You can use a cool vaporizer, too, or sit pots on trays or saucers filled with pebbles and some water. However, perennials that require winter dieback and a dormancy period shouldn't be brought inside. The bulk of soil that is in the ground tends to moderate the temperatures. If your plant is not currently in a container that can withstand frozen temperatures, consider repotting it before continuing. Overwinter as houseplants in a warm, sunny place (like a sunroom or heated greenhouse): cordyline, phormium, palms, croton, bamboo, jasmine, allamanda, bougainvillea, hibiscus, citrus; Take and root cuttings and pot them up so you have new plants in the spring: plectranthus, coleus and geraniums ; Keep plant dormant in a cool, dark place: brugmansia, banana, … Plan to winterize your buried container plant just as you would any similar plant growing in the ground. Welcome to the World of Container Gardening, Making Herb and Vegetable Container Gardens, Troubleshooting Cultural Disease and Insect Problems, Constructing and Caring for Container Water Gardens, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Most containers can be damaged by freezing and thawing conditions if the soil is left in them during winter. Freezing can be prevented by having a large soil mass in a well-insulated container or planter located in a protected area. The key to overwintering plants in containers is to prevent the soil mass from freezing and to maintain moisture in the soil throughout the winter. Dahlias are summer-flowering plants that grow from tuberous roots. Outdoor container gardens typically involve annual plant species that are discarded come late fall and replaced with new plants each spring. Choose a relatively sheltered location in your garden or elsewhere on your lawn to house your plants for winter. If the soil is dry more than an inch deep, water lightly but don’t soak the soil. Outdoor container gardens typically involve annual plant species that are discarded come late fall and replaced with new plants each spring. Herbaceous perennials should be potted up by late September or early October to allow them to become established for several weeks before cold temperatures arrive in late November. Lavender plants that are hardy for your climate can overwinter pretty well on their own in their container as long as it is not sitting under a pile of snow, tree leaves or ice. Since plants in pots effectively have their entirety exposed to the elements, roots and all, they tend to freeze easier then plants that are planted in the ground. Freezing can be prevented by having a large soil mass in a well-insulated container or planter located in a protected area. As a general rule of thumb, a perennial plant should be rated for two hardiness zones colder than your climate to be dependably hardy in a container for winter. The loose soil of potted plants typically defrosts a little faster than surrounding garden soil, which means drainage can be an issue. Overwintering outside in pots of most any kind will likely result in the entire contents of the pot freezing through and ultimately resulting in significant cold injury or the death of the plants during the coldest months. You can overwinter in containers or transplant into your garden beds for the winter. This will keep the mums foliage tight and close, and allow the timing of the blooms for fall and not late summer. This may also involve spreading leaves, straw, or compost over the spot where you've buried the pot. Depending on where you live in central Illinois, we are zone 5 or 6. Constant moisture can cause plant … Mulch it … Like with all container and basket plants, wait until the threat of frost has passed to pot up. The general rule of keeping plants in pots two zones different than the zone you live in helps. Cut Stem. While an optional step, many gardeners opt to build insulated silos around their plants, especially in the case of more delicate varietals like potted roses and other shrubs. As it turns out, ferns are one of the easiest plants of all to overwinter. Depending on their hardiness, some potted plants will respond to the first frost by going dormant just like garden plants do. Others may require storing of their bulbs inside through the winter. If they are in containers, I move the containers under cover. Overwintering Marginally Hardy Plants. Overwintering Potted Plants By Shila Patel | September 1, 2001 Fortunate are gardeners in mild-winter regions, where container gardening is a year-round pleasure without the threat of shattered pots and frozen plants familiar to many of us. This works best with tropical perennials, such as begonias, that keep growing through the winter. Whatever measures you take to protect your potted perennials for winter should be put into action a week or so before the first frost is expected. If covered with snow, plants will get plenty of moisture. 1. The surrounding soil will protect perennials that are hardy to your zone just like the ones you have planted in the ground. Shake them off outdoors to get rid of any excess dirt. The small amount in pots tend to give up heat more readily. Three steps to overwinter berries in containers and get them ready for spring. However, many perennial plants such as roses, peonies, and hibiscus can also be grown outdoors in containers and kept alive through winter. Canna lilies are one of the easiest tropical plants for the gardener to overwinter – which is exceptionally convenient as they are also one of the most versatile plants in the summer garden. Dig a hole that's slightly deeper than the container you wish to bury, allowing for just a bit of extra room around the edges of the container as well. Plants to Overwinter. The key to overwintering plants in containers is to prevent the soil mass from freezing and to maintain moisture in the soil throughout the winter. How to Overwinter Dahlias. Cluster several potted plants together in a sheltered part of your property, such as against a house wall. Winter-flowering pansies with yellow, maroon, white or purple ‘faces’ will … Place your container into your hole atop the gravel, then spread a layer of garden soil over the top of the pot. Ideally, the rim of the pot should be slightly lower than the surrounding ground, allowing you to cover it completely without creating a lump in the surface of your garden. If you do have a plant that is hardy to your zone or only one zone hardier (a zone 4 or 5 plant in my zone 5 climate) - and you don't want to gamble - you can still successfully overwinter these plants in pots. For plants that have been in containers all summer, water thoroughly and give it the recommended fertilizer rate. All other planters and containers should be emptied of soil and plants and stored upside-down to prolong their useful life. This container plant can easily be saved for life again on the porch next year. Move the pot back to the location where it resides for the warmer months. Simply placing the pots under a bench, deck, or eaves near the house saves both the pots and the succulents some wear and tear. How to Overwinter Potted Ferns. According to Climate Container Bulbs in Cold Climates… A few days ago (October 18, 2017), I wrote a blog called Overwintering Plants in Containers and it discussed perennials, shrubs, hardy climbers, small trees, etc. If these hardy succulents are planted in the garden, I generally leave them over winter and just clean up the brown leaves or transplant them in the spring. After plants are dormant (meaning herbaceous plants have died back and woody deciduous plants have dropped their leaves), water them one last time and place the pots in an insulated garage or cool basement. What to do? Thus, it's typically best to position plants in a location where the temperature swings will be less dramatic. I end up with plants like these in my bathroom, laundry room and guest room. Poorly established and pot-bound plants tend to overwinter poorly. Overwintering Mums Indoors For Spring Bring plants indoors, pots and all, once the first hard frost hits. If the container is large and able to withstand the elements, and if the plant is at least one zone hardier than your area (i.e., if you live in Zone 5, herbaceous perennials in containers need to be hardy to Zone 4 or lower), the likelihood of successfully overwintering the plant in its pot outdoors is high. If your plants are not quite hardy enough to survive winter without protection: Bury the whole pot in your vegetable garden, as though you were planting it pot and all. I find this method is unreliable—some years the geraniums do fine, other years they don’t—but it’s not a bad choice if… Large concrete and wooden planters are typically able to withstand northern Illinois winters without being cleaned out. Follow these easy steps to learn to safeguard your container plants and ensure they make it through winter healthy and unscathed. That way, you can re-use the hole you already dug! This can be hard to come by during the winter months when the sun is low in the sky and the days are short. Additionally, indoor conditions are often very dry in the winter, and many perennials need humidity—if your house lacks moisture, invest in a humidifier if you plan to bring any container plants indoors. Why You Should Overwinter Perennials in Containers Even if you picked perennials that are hardy to your zone, perennials in containers are subject to harsher winter conditions than … Therefore, you would want a plant that is hardy to zone 3 or 4 if you plan to overwinter it outdoors in a pot. Alternatively, you can keep them in an enclosed area, such as your garage or basement. Proper Drainage for Overwintering Containers. Just the sheer number of pots is a challenge to manage. Thousands of fern species exist throughout the world and more than 500 grow in American gardens. If you need to, mark the top of the soil so you know where to find your plant come spring. It’s much harder overwintering potted plants. You’ll start by digging up the geraniums in your yard, roots and all. Some plants need to go through a dormancy period and will need to be overwintered in a cool, dark space such as a garage or basement. As your garden mums head into summer, you will need to pinch or cut off the blooms of your mums early on. Marie Iannotti is an author, photographer, and speaker with 27 years of experience as a Cornell Cooperative Extension Horticulture Educator and Master Gardener. Learn tips for creating your most beautiful (and bountiful) garden ever. If you fail, try, try again. Cut a 4 to 6 inch portion of a green stem just above a node (the part of a stem from which … ... Over-wintering plants is difficult - even nurseries and greenhouses lose plants during the winter months, but that is all part of gardening. How to Overwinter a Plant Before getting pots ready to overwinter, make sure the plants inside are well watered, and check throughout the winter. Depending on the size of the growing container larger pots can usually remain outside but do keep an eye on them. The more porous a container is, the more likely it will be to crack. Many berry shrubs don’t need much water while dormant, but check containers at least once a month. At the end of each season before winter comes, the cleanup becomes a burden. However, many perennial plants such as roses, peonies, and hibiscus can also be grown outdoors in containers and kept alive through winter. In addition to clustering your plants together, you can also cover the pots with a tarp, straw, or another insulating material. In zone 5 and 6, this is typically in late November.
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