A number of plants are grown as perennials in warmer climates and as a result are never ready to deal with the freeze of winter. Northern gardeners can either choose to let these plants die outdoors or overwinter them so they can survive for the next season.

Frost vegetable

Beginner’s Guide to Overwintering

Keeping gardening plants alive in the winter


Overwintering is the process through which the plant is protected from the cold in a sheltered place or in the garden, and there are so many ways of doing this. However, different plants have different means of overwintering that work best for them.

The easiest way of overwintering plants would be to keep them in containers all through the year and houseplant the in the winter. Woody plants like lavender and rosemary can actually make the transition comfortably and even survive for so many years.

For non-hardy plants usually referred to as perennials, you can keep them indoors during the winter, though this process could cause the plants some shock especially if they are larger already. The easiest way to deal with this is to use root cuttings and keep them in the house over the winter season. This process actually works so fine for summer bedding plants like coleus.

Take note that the rooted plants normally use up less space indoors than the entire plants, and there is a lower risk of overwintering insect pests and diseases. During the late winter, take the cuttings from the plants and prepare ore transplants for outdoors when the weather starts warming up. Keep the plants under plant lights or pinch them to avoid being leggy through the winter. This works for dahlias, cannas, tuberous begonias and the likes of caladiums.

For tender plants, this can be done in two ways. You can either bring them indoors through any of the means we have discussed already, or you can alternatively force them into a state of dormancy. This works best for you if you know you will not have enough space for houseplants, or if you just do not have the time to go through overwintering.

Get the plant newspaper wrapped or in its pot around the root ball in a temperate area cool enough but not so cool, say no less than 40°F and get them in a dark place for the winter. The soil should be allowed to dry off, but not entirely, and make sure that you keep checking every once in a while and water lightly if need be to prevent complete drying off.

Get to replanting in the spring when things are easier in a warm perfectly lit place and get back to normal watering.

Indeed, a lot of the perennials normally go dormant on their own accord, but they still need your care. You can do this by keeping them covered in thick mulch, or you can dig and keep them in a cool basement.

For container plants, pack them in the middle of large boxes filled with leaves. You can do this for shrubs and vines, or alternatively keep them buried in trenches.


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