Overwintering Potted Plants – Which plants can be overwintered in a pot, and when should they be moved? You can learn everything that you need to know regarding winterizing potted plants right here.
Potted plants in the garden provide many people with the possibility to grow exotic or Mediterranean plants. Our cold winters, on the other hand, present issues for many plants. Learn which locations are ideal for winter quarters and how to properly care for potted plants during their winter dormancy periods.
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Winterizing – Potted Plant Specific Requirements
Potted plants for overwintering can be put into three categories: evergreen plants, deciduous plants, and exotic plants, the deciduous type plants are sometimes mistaken for evergreen plants.
They have varied requirements concerning temperature and light conditions in the winter quarters, on the one hand. However, if the place is not picked carefully, a variety of issues may arise.
Evergreen potted plants: Need it bright and as cool as possible during winters
Deciduous potted plants: Can also overwinter in the dark, like it cool
Exotic evergreen potted plants: Need plenty of light even in winter, tolerate slightly higher temperatures
Evergreen plants include the myrtle family (Myrtaceae), which includes the Bottlebrushes (Callistemon), and dogbanes (Apocynaceae), which includes the star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides). During their winter dormancy, they require plenty of light but low temperatures.
Evening primrose species (Onagraceae) like the fuchsia (Fuchsia) and nightshade plants (Solanaceae) like the angel’s trumpet (Brugmansia, on the other hand, are deciduous potted plants that can be overwintered in the dark.
The laurel family (Lauraceae), palm family (Arecaceae), and citrus trees (Citrus) of the rue family are examples of exotic plants (Rutaceae). Exotic plants, in particular, dislike it when it is too dark in the winter, but they can handle greater temperatures.
However, in general, the following rule applies to all the three plant groups: The lower the temperature when overwintering, the better they will overwinter and it is less likely that any difficulties will arise.
When Should Potted Plants be Overwintered
Because temperatures vary from year to year, there is no single correct date for going into winter quarters. For example, one year it may be too cold to be outside as early as October, whereas the next year is significantly milder and plants can stay outside until November.
Best Time for Overwintering Plants
The general rule for overwintering all potted plants is to keep them in their winter quarters for as little as feasible but as long as required.
Most plants can withstand prolonged cold spells around 5 to 10 °C. If the temperature falls below that level, they should be transferred to winter quarters.
Cold-tolerant plants, such as myrtle (Myrtus communis), Loquat (Eriobotrya), or star jasmine, but also laurel (Laurus nobilis) or oleander (Nerium oleander), can withstand temperatures ranging from 0 to 5 degrees Celsius.
Because most exotic or Mediterranean plants enjoy temperatures over 10 degrees Celsius, they should be wintered sooner.
Perfect Locations for Overwintering Indoors
The choice of location is dependent on the plant. There is no such thing as an ideal place for all plants at the same time. However, the following statement is mostly true for all plants,
The cooler it is, the darker it can be, and the warmer it is, the more light is needed.
A winter garden, a bright unheated cellar, the garage, the stairway, an unheated adjacent room, an unutilized greenhouse, are all excellent for overwintering indoors.
Living rooms are less ideal because it is far too warm for practically all plants. The high temperatures drive active plant development, which is then stifled by insufficient light. Because the plant is unable to produce enough photosynthesis, it develops so-called “horny shoots.” These are long, thin, soft shoots that are used to enhance photosynthesis.
They are, however, equivalent to a cry for aid for the gardener, as the plant would prefer to be moved to a cooler location. Furthermore, due to their soft consistency, horny shoots are a popular food source for bugs. Plants require appropriate moist air in addition to light, so they should be aired on a daily basis.
Perennial evergreen plants, in particular, prefer it to be sunny in the winter. As a result, they should be placed near windows. Deciduous plants, on the other hand, need less light since, without leaves, they produce little or no photosynthesis. Angel’s trumpet and fuchsia, for example, can be overwintered in dark rooms if the temperature is so low that the plant cannot sprout.
Exotic plants, due to their origins, are also acclimated to higher winter temperatures. Hibiscus (Hibiscus), mallow (Abutilon), decorative banana (Ensete ventricosum), date palm (Phoenix), and club lily (Cordyline), for example, can be preserved in moderately hot rooms if allowed to stand near a window.
To allow more light into the room, clean the windows and move the curtains aside. The only thing to avoid is direct heating proximity. The spread of bugs is aided by the dry, warm heating air. As a result, before wintering, it is critical to inspect the plants for pest infestation and conduct appropriate countermeasures.
#Tip: Brown edges on the plant leaves can imply a pest infestation, but they can also indicate the lack of humidity.
Winter Protection for Potted Plants in Garden
Cold tolerant plants, like laurel or oleander, can be overwintered outside or on a balcony in mild climates; they can withstand the short-term colds of -5 °C without issue. Olive trees, fig trees, and vines can also be overwintered outside.
Many plants benefit from fir branches or other filler material nestled between the branches towards the ground. This, for example, shields the grafting point of roses (Rosa) or provides additional protection for frost-sensitive garden hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla).
To keep ground frost at bay throughout the winter, lay the potted on a piece of styrofoam. It is critical to ensure that excess water is drained, or root rot will occur. Furthermore, the potted and plant should be wrapped in a hemp or jute sack to protect them from the cold wind and low temperatures.
Wrapping the container and the entire plant with raffia mats is especially beneficial for large potted plants like camellias (Camellia japonica). If you have multiple potted plants, you can arrange them together for mutual protection. A location along the home’s wall gives additional protection and makes use of the heat generated by the house.
Choose a place away from direct sunlight for evergreen container plants such dwarf rhododendrons, azaleas, and camellias. There is a risk of “frost drought” if there is too much sun and frost at the same time: the sunlight stimulates plants to undergo photosynthesis and transpire water.
Water intake from the partially frozen soil in the pot, on the other hand, is severely hindered during frost. As a result, the evergreen plants’ leaves fall off abruptly. The otherwise sturdy plants are shielded from frost dryness and may endure sub-zero temperatures in a less bright setting.
Winter Care for Potted Plants
Potted plants that spent the winter well covered up in the garden are usually quite easy to care for: they should be examined for frost damage throughout the winter so that the winter protection may be touched up as needed.
Watering or fertilizing is normally unnecessary; however, some evergreen plants may require some water on occasion during exceptionally dry winters.
If the planters are relocated to frost-free areas for the winter, they should be allowed to dry out as much as possible. This eliminates the risk of root rot and facilitates transit to the winter quarters. The potted must be cleaned before travel, and any leaves or plant debris should be removed. This will help to keep pests and weeds at bay.
If the plants have already grown to be rather huge, light pruning might be done. However, with the major cut, it is best to wait until spring, before budding in February, because the cut wounds heal faster at the start of vegetation.
The plant determines how much and which shoots are clipped again. It is especially crucial to keep one-year-old wood on plants that bear blooms. In any event, diseased or damaged shoots should be eliminated.
Plants in the winter periods are undemanding during their dormancy. A light watering once a week is sufficient. Watering, on the other hand, should be done only when the soil has dried slightly. If you are unsure, it is best to wait a few days before watering because almost all plants can tolerate brief periods of dryness better than long periods of wetness.
Furthermore, the rooms should be ventilated on a regular basis. This reduces possible pest pressure while also preventing dry edges on leaves generated by heated air. In winter quarters, pests can spread quickly amongst tightly spaced plants, therefore pest infestations must be checked on a frequent basis. In this manner, immediate and long-lasting action can be performed in the event of an infestation.
#Tip: Dry heating air is a common issue with exotics that have overwintered in sunny and warm settings. It not only creates dry leaf edges but also encourages thrips and spider mite infection.
As a result, spray the wintered exotic plants with water on a regular basis, or arrange bowls filled with expanded clay as well as water nearby – these evaporate water and so keep the humidity high.
First Fertilization After Winterizing Plants
Before the first leaves show in the spring, deciduous plants begin to establish roots – hidden in the soil. In this case, it seems sensible to provide the plant with predominantly organic fertilizer. Evergreen and exotic plants gradually begin to re-invest energy in their growth, both in the roots and in the plant’s top portions.
This signifies that the plant will need a lot of energy. The microbial soil life is strengthened and thus the root and leaf growth is boosted at the start when we use nitrogen-rich organic fertilizers. Organic liquid fertilizers are best applied in conjunction with watering since this allows nutrients to be spread throughout the pot and properly absorbed by the roots.
Later, to provide the plant with the best possible care, a specialized fertilizer appropriate for the plant should be applied.
Carrying large pots back and forth might be hard in the fall and spring. In our unique post, you can discover everything you need to know about hardy palm varieties for your garden that can survive the winter outdoors.