The Basics Of Over-Wintering Plants

Here are some tricks to help you protect your special plants and those that are marginally hardy.

1. Over-Wintering Plants in Containers

One of the biggest winter headaches is what to do with potted containers. Plants that are at least 2 zones hardier than your growing zone should be able to survive the winter outdoors in containers. You may need to provide some extra insulation and be certain your container is made from a frost tolerant material.

2. Over-Wintering Geraniums

They are very easy to bring indoors. If you have enough sunlight, you can even let them grow as houseplants, on a windowsill. However, it is easy enough to store them dormant, until they are ready to go back outdoors in the spring.

geranium
Photo: © Marie Iannotti

3. Take Cuttings

If space is an issue, but you still want to save some plants for next year, consider taking some cuttings of your existing plants. They will start out small and grow slowly, at first. But if you have a favorite begonia, plectranthus or coleus and you want to make sure you have it again next year, cuttings are an easy, inexpensive way to create more plants.

4. Winter Mulching

It may sound like wasted effort to mulch in the winter, but this is a different type of mulching. Rather than suppressing weeds and conserving water. Winter mulching isn’t used to keep the ground warm, it’s meant to keep the ground frozen. Frozen ground won’t kill hardy plants, but repeated freezing and thawing will. The expanding and contracting of the soil can push plants right out of the ground. A layer of snow is excellent winter mulch for plants.

5. Over-Wintering Hardy Mums

More of them are tossed in the compost than make it through the winter. The mums that spring up in garden centers in the fall have been treated and forced, to look picture perfect in your fall displays. They can survive the winter, but they’ll need a little TLC. There are also many other types of mums you can grow in your garden, that are truly hardy and indifferent to winter.

6. Storing Tender Bulbs

Summer blooming bulbs require so little care during the growing season, they are hard to resist. Who doesn’t love a little touch of the tropics in their garden? Unfortunately, when you don’t actually live in the tropics, you can’t just leave the bulbs in the ground over winter. Well, you could, but they wouldn’t survive. If you want to grow your cannas, dahlias and elephant ears again next season, they will need to be dug and stored.

7. Bringing Outdoor Plants Indoors

Some garden plants are perfectly happy to be brought indoors and grown as houseplants. They can handle the drier winter conditions and most even enjoy the cooler temperatures. You may have to test out the best spot for sun exposure since winter sunlight isn’t very intense. But bringing in a coleus or fuchsia is a nice reminder of the garden that was and the one that will be.

8. Winter Rose Care

Roses always seem to come through winter with a little damage. Sometimes they refuse to go dormant and are hard hit by frost. Or maybe black spot or chafers stick around for the winter, to get an early start in the spring. Many roses are grafted onto root stock and need a little extra protection to prevent the graft from winter injury.

Source: www.thespruce.com; by Marie Iannoti