Winter is a dreaded word for many gardeners, but it doesn’t have to be! Winter is a natural part of the plant cycle, and every living thing depends on the change of seasons.
In winter, plants rest and hibernate, conserving their resources for the growing season. Embracing winter means that you have to create the best conditions for your plants to thrive, which gives them a better chance of bouncing back when it gets warmer.
Overwintering is the common term for preparing plants for the cold season, and it sounds fancier than it is. Overwintering your plants is a few simple steps to keep them warm and allow them to hibernate.
Of course, some plants don’t need overwintering and do very well in the winter season. Such winter-hardy plants like lily of the valley and blue spruce have their own care tips that keep them flourishing in the cold. Here are tips to prepare your container garden for winter.
1. Start with pre-winter maintenance
Before winter, make sure to weed your container garden and dig up bulbs like caladiums, oxalis, tulips etc. Since they go dormant in winter, you can restart them indoors with a grow light in a high humidity environment.
Plants thrive best with consistency, so moving them abruptly indoors or leaving them out until the weather changes might be counterproductive. It’s best to start acclimating your plants to the cooler weather through fall, by starting to warm them up (by wrapping the pots or introducing cache pots) and moving them slowly to less sunny conditions.
2. Modify your plant care routine
In winter, it is key to tailor your plant care to the season. Plants generally need less watering during winter, and you might have to move your plants to other parts of the house to get the full advantage of the sun.
As most plants are dormant during winter, you should also not fertilize them in the middle of the season. The best practice is to fertilize your plants for the winter just before the first frost.
Wrap up your plants with a tarp or plastic wrap to keep the roots warm, and create humidity.
3. Move plants indoors
Many container plants, especially houseplants, might not overwinter well outside. It would be best to move them indoors where the residual warmth and humidity can keep them over the winter months.
Moving plants also allows you to group them together for maximum warmth and humidity. Group plants with similar watering schedules together for efficiency.
4. Invest in sturdy wooden cache pots
A cache pot is a decorative container you can put your plain old nursery pots into. It serves the dual purpose of livening up your winter garden while keeping your plant containers warm and toasty through the drafty winter.
It's best to use wooden planters that can absorb the wetness of the environment without cracking like ceramic and terracotta eventually would.
5. Be patient and maximize your winter
Winter may not be as action-packed garden-wise as other months, but you can spend the time recharging, reevaluating and planning for the next season.
What are your tips for preparing container plants for winter?