Wintering Over Tender Perennials in Containers

clay potsI grew some perennials in containers this year that are not hardy in my area. What should I do with them over the winter?

Answer: Whether you lack a lot of space, want more garden design ideas or just want to spruce up the front porch, adding a container garden can amplify any area. Not only does container gardening enhance the flair of a home, but it also lessens the amount of maintenance the plants require.

Perennials are great options for containers because they can add bright colors, luscious foliage and wonderful consistency; however when it comes to keeping them throughout the winter season, there are some challenges. A lot of perennials in containers are treated as annuals, tossed out in the winter season with plans to add new ones in the spring; surviving the winter is also an applicable solution but will require some preparation and care.

Hardier container perennials, preferably rated two USDA zones colder than your area, have a better chance of living throughout the winter; just stop fertilizing/watering them after they are no longer actively growing in the fall and begin again in spring once they start growing again.

When you have a perennial that is not hardy to your area, to ensure the best possibility of survival, you have a few options: you can keep them in an unheated location, like a garage or a cold frame, making sure they do not dry out; you can plant the container in the ground just before the soil freezes with the rim of the pot right above or at the soil line adding heavy mulch; or better yet, you can remove the perennial from the container and plant it closely together with other perennials into the soil, also adding in heavy mulch. Another riskier option is to group all the potted perennials together in a tight-spaced location, adding heavy mulch and hoping they make it through the harsh winter months.

In addition to winter preparation, it is very important to keep in mind the container you have selected for your perennials. Can the container survive the winter, or will it crack or break? If the material isn’t strong enough to withstand the cruel, cold weather outside, you can either throw out the perennial and store the pot alone, or try to move the whole thing indoors, converting it into a houseplant. Once spring season returns, reintroduce the plant outdoors.

Although there is no guarantee your perennial containers will survive winter, with great care and preparation, your beautiful plants can withstand any season.

Image: katerha
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Add to your garden with beautiful blooms that are perfect to grow in containers with the container flower garden collection, which includes Pixie Sunshine Zinnia, Little Ladybird Cosmos, Heirloom Cupid Sweet Pea, Junior Sunflower, and Whirlybird Nasturtium seeds.

Expand your container garden with the Container Gardening Value Pack, which contains the Horticulture: Container Gardening CD, Small-Space Container Gardens book and “Solutions to Common Problems” download.

Curious about container gardening or want to know how to make yours the best it can be through any season? Check out Container Gardening for All Seasons for great container tips.

Help your garden not only survive but thrive during the harsh winter months with “Horticulture Smart Gardening Techniques: Preparing for Winter.”

Want more great container plant ideas? In The Encyclopedia of Container Plants you can browse over 500 exceptional choices perfect for container gardening.

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One thought on “Wintering Over Tender Perennials in Containers

  1. I have had great success keeping potted perennials in our unheated but insulated garage over the winter. I do not let them dry out. They generally stop growing although there are windows which let in sunlight. I have kept tropical plants in this fashion also.

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