What To Do With Outdoor Plants In Winter

I’ve only recently started gardening in the winter, so I was concerned that the cold would kill my plants. This is the result of some time I invested in research and testing several ideas.

You must give outdoor plants enough of water if you want them to survive the winter. Mulch the soil after it has been watered to keep the moisture and warmth in. To avoid frost, cover and enclose the plants as needed.

Different plants will require different care, and there are proper and wrong ways to go about it. If you follow the appropriate instructions, keeping your plants alive during the winter is not difficult.

How should outside potted plants be cared for during the winter?

You might need to give your pots additional protection depending on where you reside. The following are a few choices for overwintering containers:

  • Put many pots next to the house or wall on the ground. Put the cold-hardiest plants outside the grouping, and the weaker ones in the middle. Place straw bales around the outside. Putting them together improves the insulation’s mass and volume, shielding them from chilly breezes that could cause freezing and desiccation.
  • Mulch pots with straw, mulch, or chopped leaves for further insulation. Snow is a wonderful insulator as well. Grouping pots in a premade pond liner and filling it with mulch is an intriguing concept for insulating containers.
  • The only insulation for roots is the wall of the pot itself because the majority of roots usually tend to be on the exterior of the rootball. To insulate roots, place foam along the walls of square pots that is at least an inch thick before planting. Fill the internal walls of rounded pots with foam peanuts.
  • Fill the container up with soil and bury the pots there.
  • Plant the rootball in the ground after removing it from the container. Clean the container, then keep it inside. Next year, remove the root ball and repot it in the same or a bigger container.
  • Burlap, bubble wrap, old blankets, or geotextile blankets can all be used to wrap pots. Since the roots require protection, the entire plant doesn’t need to be covered. The root zone will retain heat thanks to the support of these protective covers.
  • Cover plants at night with cloth, burlap, or plastic if low temperatures are anticipated. If you use plastic, make sure to take it off during the day because the heat can hasten the growth of the buds. Additionally, when covering, take care not to harm the plants’ tops. Plant damage from the cold and pests is facilitated by injury.
  • To offer further security, place your pot inside of a larger pot. The bigger pot should have extra insulation or sturdy walls for this to work optimally.

Hard freezes may be unusual to nonexistent in USDA Zones 7 through 11, therefore it may not be essential to add insulation or move pots indoors for the winter. There are several tasks, nevertheless, that you should still be mindful of. Plant development will stall in the winter because of the lower temperatures, and watering may become less regular. However, salt can accumulate in the soil and increase toxicity levels. Leach the salts out with water. As required, fertilize plants as well.

Where should I keep my plants that I keep outside all year?

1. Locate a Sufficient Overwintering Spot. It is necessary to have a dry area with temperatures that are above 45F (7C) but below 60F for plants to recognize that it is winter (15C). I formerly owned a home with a functional attached unheated garage.

My outside plants may I bring inside for the winter?

It’s time to bring many of your outdoor plants inside when frost is forecast. Only indoors will many delicate annuals, bulbs, herbs, and tropical plants make it through the winter. Here are some tips on which plants to bring indoors this fall and how to prepare potted plants for the winter.

When to Bring Plants Inside

True annuals and plants that we cultivate as annuals (which are regarded as sensitive perennials in southern regions) are unable to withstand the chilly winter months. But you don’t have to say goodbye to these plants forever! Even delicate plants that require a winter dormant period can be brought inside as “annuals” in many cases. Ideally, these should be brought inside before the temperature drops below 45 degrees at night (7C). Start bringing the plants inside for the winter when October approaches and nighttime lows dip approximately 50F (10C).

At temperatures below 40F (4C), and for some tropical plants even below 50, harm is likely to occur. To acclimatize them, you must take action well before any actual frost or ice.

Where to Put Plants

I still struggle to find space for everything, despite the fact that the greenhouse we have attached to the house receives plenty of sunlight and never gets colder than 45F. For my benefit, a lot of these plants would experience a dry season in their natural habitat and don’t mind resting under a bench. Particularly when the pots are large, the greenhouse quickly fills up.

Consider making a shelf or area where you may put plants that require high humidity together if you don’t have a greenhouse but have a lot of them. While some people mist their indoor plants, this only has a temporary beneficial effect. Putting a pebble tray under your plants is a better long-term solution. After adding a layer of gravel and lining the trays with waterproof material, add the pots on top. Do not dry out the gravel. You might wish to attach some ceiling hooks if you have hanging plants. Cleaning your windows both inside and outside will help guarantee that plants receive enough light throughout winter.

Which Plants To Bring Inside

You might need to decide what should be brought inside and what should be kept outside. Which flora stand out to you? Which ones cost the most to replace? Additionally, only keep healthy plants; throw away those that have disease or pest issues. Additionally, the lighting in your home is crucial. Even a west or south facing glassed area in winter only has the summer shaded area’s winter light intensity.

Plants that can be carried indoors can be divided into two categories:

  • plants that need a time of winter hibernation.
  • plants that can continue to thrive while dormant during the winter.

Some delicate bulbs need to spend some time “dormant” in a chilly environment where the temperature is still far above freezing. Numerous of these pricey bulbs are worth overwintering. Tender bulbs include, for instance:

  • Caladiums
  • A calla lily
  • Cannas
  • Dahlias
  • Animal ears
  • Gladiolus
  • tubes of roses

Simply stop watering fragile bulbs in pots, remove the withering leaves, and tuck them away in a dark, cool place. Periodically check the soil moisture.

Dig up and trim back the leaves of fragile underground bulbs. By hand, remove as much dirt as you can from the bulb. For 7 to 14 days, leave them in a warm, dry location to dry. This gets rid of extra moisture. Separate them with shredded newspaper or dry peat moss and place them loosely in a cardboard box or open container. Get cozy somewhere chilly and gloomy. To get a head start on the season, pot them up in the spring about a month before you intend to set them outside.

Can I keep potted plants outside over the winter?

Clean up any empty pots before storing them as the first step in winterizing the container garden. Clay and terra-cotta pots should be kept dry and upside-down or on their sides. Most terra-cotta pots shouldn’t be left outside in frigid weather because they could crack or break because they are constructed of porous clays. Choose terra cotta pots made of special clay that can withstand freezes if you must leave them outside (like Impruneta, for example). Terra-cotta pots typically do not hold up as well to freezing as glaze-coated pots, which are typically fired at higher temperatures.

Wrap the sides of planted terra-cotta and glazed containers with layers of bubble wrap or burlap coated in plastic to keep them safe when left outside.

Once the plants go dormant and their water needs are reduced, wrap them to prevent them from absorbing any more moisture. (Wrap containers holding

After the first hard frost, wrap evergreen plants in plastic.) If you have empty concrete, cement, or clay pots that are too heavy to move, clean them as thoroughly as possible.

In order to avoid water from building up within the pots, freezing, and cracking them, fill them as much as possible and cover them with lids or plastic sheeting. Although certain plastic pots may shatter if the soil inside expands during freezing temperatures, sturdy plastic and fiberglass pots are perfect for leaving outside. Durable hardwood-made wooden containers are also appropriate and will deteriorate gracefully over time.

When the season is over, what should you do with your potted plants?

Ten things to do:

  • 1.) Don’t just clean, “sanitize.
  • 2. Remove the dead materials.
  • 3. Cut off the wilted perennial flowers.
  • 4.) “Put compost on top of the gardens.
  • 5. One final grass cutting.
  • 6.) Apply lawn fertilizer.
  • 7.) Guard the delicate material.
  • 8. Examine the mulch.

Can perennials be kept in containers during the winter?

If you have spent the effort planning, planting, and caring for your perennial container garden during the entire growing season, you probably want to overwinter it. However, other gardeners prefer to treat perennials like annuals and chuck them out once the growing season is finished. Others decide to move their perennials in containers into the garden for the winter before starting again with new plants in the spring. Your decision is yours. Continue reading if you want to try overwintering.

Why do containerized perennials require special treatment to overwinter successfully?

  • Perennial plants dislike temperature changes that are stronger above ground than below it.
  • The risk of harm is higher when perennials are grown in pots because they are less cold-hardy.
  • Remember that your chances of successfully overwintering increase with pot size. This is so that the roots can be protected from freezing and desiccating by a larger volume of soil in a larger pot.
  • Perennials typically have an easier time surviving the winter in warmer climates or regions with a consistent, heavy layer of snow cover. It takes more effort to get them to survive the winter in the north and in locations with erratic snow cover.

No of your climate, give containerized perennials a good watering just before the ground freezes so they have a supply on hand for the warm winter months. If overwintering under cover, you can also occasionally add a few handfuls of snow to the top of the container; if the temperature rises sufficiently for it to melt, this will provide the plants extra water.

Despite this, many perennials grown in containers do not make it through the winter because they drown from receiving too much water. The roots sit in water until the soil thaws completely and the water can drain out of the pot via the drainage hole at the bottom when the pot accumulates water at the top but the soil is still frozen at the bottom. Water, especially ice cold water in the winter, is not good for roots to sit in. To prevent this from happening, overwinter your perennials in containers on their sides so that water cannot collect at the top of the pot or overwinter them under cover where they won’t receive much water over the winter or the first few weeks of spring before the soil thaws.

Overwintering Techniques

On the best way to overwinter perennials in containers, there are several different schools of thought. Some of the techniques listed here might be effective in your climate, while others might not. The best approach to figure out what will work for you is to experiment.

  • The majority opinion seems to be that burying the entire pot in the ground is the best approach to overwinter perennials grown in containers. The roots are safeguarded in this manner, just as they would be if the plants were genuinely buried in a garden. Just be careful not to keep the pot in the ground for an excessive amount of time in the spring, as this may cause the roots to start growing out of the drainage holes and securing the pot to the earth.
  • After the first severe frost, you can overwinter them by putting the pots in a cold frame or an unheated garage for the winter. Don’t overwinter perennials in a greenhouse or another warm location where plants won’t fall dormant because all perennials need a time of dormancy or a cold treatment to blossom.
  • If you are overwintering your containers outdoors, arrange them together as closely as you can in a protected spot on the ground. In this manner, the soil’s heat and moisture can be absorbed by the pots. A excellent location is often on the east side of the home. Never store the containers over the winter on a deck, paved area, or any other surface that is elevated from the ground. Perennials in containers that are exposed on higher levels throughout the winter have a poor probability of successfully overwintering.
  • The pots will require some form of insulating material to be placed on top of them. Try piling evergreen boughs or leaves on top of the pots, then cover everything with a heavy blanket of snow. Use an insulating blanket designed specifically for this if snowfall is unreliable where you live. For further security, you may also consider wrapping the pots themselves in an insulating material.

How are annual plants stored for the following season?


It’s time to move delicate plants inside so they can survive until spring. The simplest approach to save geraniums is to simply bring them inside, place them in a sunny spot, and cut them back to about half their current size.

Work you put in now will save you money on plants the next year and may even make you feel better throughout the gloomy winter.

Here are some suggestions on how to preserve geraniums and other tuberous plants if you’re a fan of them.

Geraniums can be preserved in a number of methods. Potted plants can simply be brought indoors. Reduce them to about half of their original height. Put the plants in a well-lit area of the house. Expect less flowering from them.

Over the winter, make sure to fertilize and hydrate them. After the risk of frost has passed and you have hardened them off, return them to the outdoors in the spring. In order to prepare them for returning to the outside, they must be kept in the shade for a few days.

Geraniums can also be kept in a paper bag or cardboard box. You can use this technique to remove your geraniums before a heavy freeze without having to wash the roots or remove all of the soil. The plants should be placed in a shaded area to dry for a few days. After that, put them in a paper bag or a cardboard box and secure the top.

Keep the plants in a cool, dry area that’s between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove dry leaves from the bag or box and occasionally inspect for mold. The stems should be sturdy, so check them (throw away any shriveled or dried out stems).

Pull the geraniums out of the bag or box in the spring, 6 to 8 weeks before the final frost, trim any extra-long roots, and cut the stem back to strong, green growth. By the time you finish cleaning them up, the plants might only be 4 inches long. Your dormant parts will start to grow into full-sized plants after they are potted; simply take care of them like you would any plant.

Remove the lowest leaves by making a 3 to 4 inch cut using a clean, sharp knife. Enter a powdered rooting hormone into the cut end. You may buy this item from any gardening supply store. Insert the cutting into a potting mix container that is damp (not garden soil), and make sure the container has drainage holes.

Make sure your cuttings don’t touch, cover the container with plastic, and put it somewhere bright inside. Remove the plastic if there is an excessive buildup of moisture and keep the cuttings and potting mix somewhat dry. Don’t let the mixture get entirely dry; as required, add water from the bottom. In 3 to 4 weeks, roots should appear; you’ll know when this happens because the cuttings’ tops will start to grow again.

Many annual plants can be taken inside as houseplants during the winter. Alternatively, you might take cuttings of your favorite plants, like coleus or impatiens, root them, then pot the cuttings to keep them inside over the winter. By submerging the cutting in a glass of water, many of these plants can quickly and easily take root.

The cuttings are prepared to be put in a pot and placed in a sunny area indoors once you notice a set of roots developing.

If you want plants like cannas, gladioli, caladiums, or dahlias to return the following year, you must remove them out of the ground and bring them indoors. Wait until the first frost has browned the tops of the plants. After that, using a fork or spade, carefully remove the clumps while taking care not to harm the root organs.

Remove the majority of the dirt, then leave the roots and bulbs to dry for a few hours in the shade outside. Clumps should be stored in a cold, dry, frost-proof area after being wrapped in newspaper or placed in peat moss, dry sawdust, or sand boxes. During the winter, keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t dry out or rot from an excess of moisture.

Always choose the healthiest plants, and before deciding to keep them, inspect them for any signs of illness or insects.