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|Winter, Ready or Not?|
Kathy Purdy had an excellent article on how she is winterizing her potted plants in her New York yard and I thought I would add my experience here in the cold climate of Ohio to the mash.
First on my list is simply getting the terra cotta pots into my unheated garage. I leave the plantings in them usually, to give me time to transfer wanted plants to new indoor lodgings. There are many years that the outcome of such plants have mixed results. But always a better chance of carrying through to the Spring then if left on their own out in the garage.
Potting Up My Favorites
My favorites to carry over are especially pretty Geraniums (actually Pelargoniums, but most of don’t call them by their proper names). This year I managed to prepare some with variegated leaves, and place them in my large east facing window. That should give them the best chance for success.
I was a little late, and they were exposed to some mid October frosts that came on suddenly, but looked salvageable. I followed my usual procedure:
- removed excess branches and all dead or unhealthy looking leaves.
- shook out some of the soil from the roots and trimmed back the rootball to fit the new pot.
- planted up the plant with new soil; took cuttings from the excess branches.
- watered to moisten and put the pots in cachepots that then go into a bright lit window.
I have successfully potted wax begonias, coleus, impatiens, in a similar manner, or by rooting cuttings.
Storing Pots Out Of The Weather
Terra cotta pots are the most susceptible to winter damage, but I learned the hard way that resin pots will also crack and suffer from ice and freezing temperatures.
After I left my urn out one winter, it filled with ice and the expansion cracked it. I repaired it (sort of) and still use it, but I wish I had been wiser and simply put it away the way I do all my pots now.
Unplanted Shrubs and Perennials
Kathy puts hers under wraps and trenches them in. I have also heeled in plants in the past. It works fairly well, but if there is an unusual cold snap without snow cover, there are some losses.
Her method would probably work for most people, and is easy and frugal.
So I’m not saying anything is wrong with wintering over potted plants that way, but for someone who lives where winds kick up as they do on the wide open spaces of the plains, with little in the way of trees, or buildings to cut the force of the wind, it doesn’t work so well. At least not for me.
It is usual in gardening for different methods for garden tasks to work out for different people. There is rarely just one right way to do anything, which is why gardening is an art, there’s a bit of your own touch and understanding involved.
|my view during the height of corn season: open, flat, few trees|
I don’t use leaf cover as she is doing for two reasons, however.
- For me, the maple leaves tend to mat down in a smothering soggy mess.
- If they don’t, the extreme prairie winds that blow across miles of flat unbuffered fields sends the piled leaves into the next county.
I have used mulch to insulate potted plants that were put into a trench. That works for me.
What doesn’t work is a basement- I always forget to water properly for a heated space like that, and there is no natural sunlight. Mostly it is my neglectfulness: out of sight, out of mind.
For now, my way of dealing with such a situation is to simply not get into it. I apply my springtime plant buying rule:
I cannot buy more plants until I have planted all of the last batch of purchases.
Of course I have my lapses, but much less guilt and extra work.
I do have an idea borrowed from a compost pile:
If you want to insulate leftover potted plants with leaves, why not make a corral of straw bales and pack leaves around the pots and on top? I think that would solve many problems except for sogginess. And because it would harbor rodents I wouldn’t situate it next to the house. However, if you had a space in a more remote part of the yard it could become a sort of compost pile area next spring.