However, as the temperature continues to drop, their roots might die unless they are protected. However, many perennial plants such as roses, peonies, and hibiscus can also be grown outdoors in containers and kept alive through winter. 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. Depending on their hardiness, some potted plants will respond to the first frost by going dormant just like garden plants do. Doing so with moderate the temperature swings and increase the likelihood of your perennials surviving the winter. Before getting pots ready to overwinter, make sure the plants inside are well watered, and check throughout the winter. For plants that have been in containers all summer, water thoroughly and give it the recommended fertilizer rate. Others may require storing of their bulbs inside through the winter. Shake them off outdoors to get rid of any excess dirt. If covered with snow, plants will get plenty of moisture. As it turns out, ferns are one of the easiest plants of all to overwinter. 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. 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). And if the ferns are Boston Ferns, warmer temps are better for them as well. For example, a gardener in zone 5 can expect perennials rated for zone 3 or colder to survive the winter in containers. This will keep the mums foliage tight and close, and allow the timing of the blooms for fall and not late summer. Thus, it's typically best to position plants in a location where the temperature swings will be less dramatic. Summer Care – How To Save Mums. Freezing can be prevented by having a large soil mass in a well-insulated container or planter located in a protected area. 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. Woody Plants and herbaceous perennials should be completely dormant or hardened off before covering for the winter. 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. 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. In zone 5 and 6, this is typically in late November. Many berry shrubs don’t need much water while dormant, but check containers at least once a month. 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, … You’ll start by digging up the geraniums in your yard, roots and all. You can use a cool vaporizer, too, or sit pots on trays or saucers filled with pebbles and some water. Place your container into your hole atop the gravel, then spread a layer of garden soil over the top of the pot. Mulch it … 3. Outdoor container gardens typically involve annual plant species that are discarded come late fall and replaced with new plants each spring. There are several ways to do this. 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! 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. Poorly established and pot-bound plants tend to overwinter poorly. Cut a 4 to 6 inch portion of a green stem just above a node (the part of a stem from which … Simply placing the pots under a bench, deck, or eaves near the house saves both the pots and the succulents some wear and tear. Winter-flowering pansy. Winter-flowering pansies with yellow, maroon, white or purple ‘faces’ will … 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… However, many perennial plants such as roses, peonies, and hibiscus can also be grown outdoors in containers and kept alive through winter. This can be hard to come by during the winter months when the sun is low in the sky and the days are short. 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. While some plants can survive light frosts, others will die for good as soon as their cells freeze. Just don’t let the bottom of the pots sit in the water. Marie Iannotti is an author, photographer, and speaker with 27 years of experience as a Cornell Cooperative Extension Horticulture Educator and Master Gardener. 2. 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. This works best with tropical perennials, such as begonias, that keep growing through the winter. If you need to, mark the top of the soil so you know where to find your plant come spring. Three steps to overwinter berries in containers and get them ready for spring. 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. There, they'll be protected from any winds that can rapidly drop temperatures and will enjoy some heat radiation from the house. As your garden mums head into summer, you will need to pinch or cut off the blooms of your mums early on. Move the pot back to the location where it resides for the warmer months. Lots of containerized plants can spend the winter inside if the temperature's 30- and 40-degrees Fahrenheit. 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. Option two: Store in a cool spot that doesn’t freeze, like your garage. What to do? 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). Like with all container and basket plants, wait until the threat of frost has passed to pot up. The small amount in pots tend to give up heat more readily. 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. At the end of each season before winter comes, the cleanup becomes a burden. Proper Drainage for Overwintering Containers. I end up with plants like these in my bathroom, laundry room and guest room. It’s much harder overwintering potted plants. However, perennials that require winter dieback and a dormancy period shouldn't be brought inside. 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. The general rule of keeping plants in pots two zones different than the zone you live in helps. Make sure your container is strong enough to last through winter. 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. Choose a relatively sheltered location in your garden or elsewhere on your lawn to house your plants for winter. Cluster several potted plants together in a sheltered part of your property, such as against a house wall. Just the sheer number of pots is a challenge to manage. Freezing can be prevented by having a large soil mass in a well-insulated container or planter located in a protected area. Dahlias are summer-flowering plants that grow from tuberous roots. 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. 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. The surrounding soil will protect perennials that are hardy to your zone just like the ones you have planted in the ground. Storing dormant plants is one of the oldest and most time-honored practices of overwintering geraniums, and it’s fairly simply to do. Watering containers with needled and broadleaf evergreens such as hollies, boxwoods and ivy is essential in winter. ... Over-wintering plants is difficult - even nurseries and greenhouses lose plants during the winter months, but that is all part of gardening. Alternatively, you can keep them in an enclosed area, such as your garage or basement. According to Climate Container Bulbs in Cold Climates… 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. How to Overwinter a Plant 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. Knowing the plant’s needs is the key to keeping plants over winter successfully. Outdoor container gardens typically involve annual plant species that are discarded come late fall and replaced with new plants each spring. How to Overwinter Dahlias. 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. 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 container plant can easily be saved for life again on the porch next year. 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. 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. 1. Freezing can be prevented by having a large soil mass in a well-insulated container or planter located in a protected area. Follow these easy steps to learn to safeguard your container plants and ensure they make it through winter healthy and unscathed. Plants to Overwinter. This works best if you’d like to plant a new tree in spring. This may also involve spreading leaves, straw, or compost over the spot where you've buried the pot. and for good reason: the same rules just don’t apply. Large concrete and wooden planters are typically able to withstand northern Illinois winters without being cleaned out. To raise the humidity around your plants, group them together, or keep them near the kitchen sink or in a steamy bathroom. 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. For example, if the standard recommendation is to mulch over a particular garden perennial for winter, do so with the buried potted plant. If your plant is not currently in a container that can withstand frozen temperatures, consider repotting it before continuing. As such, cold hardiness of the selected rose cultivars is key. Overwintering Mums Indoors For Spring Bring plants indoors, pots and all, once the first hard frost hits. 1. Depending on where you live in central Illinois, we are zone 5 or 6. The loose soil of potted plants typically defrosts a little faster than surrounding garden soil, which means drainage can be an issue. 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. Overwintering Marginally Hardy Plants. Small potted fruit trees that spend the summer on a deck or patio can also live indoors for winter. A technique that is sometimes successful is to move potted perennials indoors for the winter. Most containers can be damaged by freezing and thawing conditions if the soil is left in them during winter. It didn’t cover hardy bulbs (tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses, garlic, etc.) A second option is to overwinter the entire plant. Managing Garden Pots Before Winter. How to Overwinter Potted Ferns. 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. All it takes is a little fall prep work to the fern, and a cool but protected space indoors to keep them going. 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. 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. 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. Plan to winterize your buried container plant just as you would any similar plant growing in the ground. This makes it difficult to say exactly how to overwinter … 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. 2. You can overwinter in containers or transplant into your garden beds for the winter. 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. All other planters and containers should be emptied of soil and plants and stored upside-down to prolong their useful life. Look for a spot that will stay in the range of 32 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Constant moisture can cause plant … Learn tips for creating your most beautiful (and bountiful) garden ever. In addition to clustering your plants together, you can also cover the pots with a tarp, straw, or another insulating material. 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. Depending on the size of the growing container larger pots can usually remain outside but do keep an eye on them. If you apply that simple rule, you eliminate most of the problems of overwintering plants in pots. Therefore, you would want a plant that is hardy to zone 3 or 4 if you plan to overwinter it outdoors in a pot. If they are in containers, I move the containers under cover. 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. If you fail, try, try again. Give Them a Drink. If the soil is dry more than an inch deep, water lightly but don’t soak the soil. 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. The bulk of soil that is in the ground tends to moderate the temperatures. Thousands of fern species exist throughout the world and more than 500 grow in American gardens. Cut Stem. You will simply have to do more than leave the pot … The more porous a container is, the more likely it will be to crack. 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. 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. 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. That way, you can re-use the hole you already dug! 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 … 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. 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