How Should I Overwinter Unplanted Plants this Fall?
It’s almost fall and I purchased assorted vines and now do not have time to plant them. I want to keep them living til spring…please advise.
Thanks for writing in. Many of us buy plants that we don’t get in the ground in time. Don’t worry!
I assume that the vines you purchased are hardy to the area you live in. If, so, you should not have a problem as long as you take a few simple steps. Consider the retail nurseries and wholesale growers in cold climates who have to overwinter their hardy potted plants.
The key is to protect plant roots from repeated cycles of freezing and thawing. You want to insulate the plants’ roots to protect them.
You have a couple of options:
Option #1 (Above Ground)
– Buy a bag of shredded bark mulch or sterile straw/hay (no weed seeds, please!). It’s too early for leaf drop in most of the country, but If you have leaves available, you can use leaves. We’ll call all of these insulating materials “mulch.”
– Find a place in your yard that is sheltered from wind. This can be on the ground, on a patio, etc.
– If you only have a windy area, you can use bales of hay to create an insulating perimeter around the pots.
– If placing pots on a cement patio, spread a couple of inches of mulch on the surface to create a base layer for the pots.
– Group the pots together so that they touch one another.
– Using chicken wire or similar material, form an enclosure around the perimeter of the pots, leaving a gap of a few inches between the chicken wire and the group of pots.
– Fill the chicken wire enclosure with the mulch, up to the height of the soil level of the pots.
– Add a couple of inches of mulch onto the soil in the pots (not too deep).
– Keep the pots watered until hard frost.
– Wait until the threat of frost is over before removing the pots in spring, or when you see the first sign of new plant growth.
Option #2 (In the Ground)
– Buy a bag of shredded bark mulch or sterile straw/hay (no weed seeds, please!). If you have leaves available, you can use leaves. Again, we’ll call all of these insulating materials “mulch.”
– Find a place in your landscape that is sheltered from wind and where you don’t mind digging holes in the ground. Again, you can use bales of hay to create a sheltering perimeter, if you only have a windy site.
– Dig a hole in the soil for each pot and sink each pot into its respective hole.
– Don’t dig too deeply – the soil level of the pot should line up with the soil level of the ground. Fill in any gaps with mulch.
– Mulch the top of each pot with a couple of inches of mulch.
– Water plants until hard frost.
– Carefully dig out the pots from the soil after the ground has thawed in spring or when you see the first sign of new plant growth.
Resist the urge to overwinter these hardy plants indoors. They are adapted to your climate and may need a dormant period to grow successfully. Sometimes winters can be so harsh that you will have some plant loss, no matter what you do. If you follow the steps above, you are giving your plants the best chance for survival.
Kim Eierman at EcoBeneficial!
Photo: Lukasz Lech_Flickr
More from Ask EcoBeneficial!
Question: I have a couple beds of Ninebarks and Viburnums and they’ve been there about two or three years. So I’m thinking it’s time to create a living mulch around them. Can you recommend a few plants for ground cover that have ecological benefits, and will fill in around these…Read More
Question: What are some native, deer-resistant flowering perennials for wet meadows in the Northeast? Answer: As you likely know, no plant is deer bomb-proof. In the absence of adequate forage, deer will browse just about anything. Young fawns may nibble on plants that make them sick, as they have not…Read More
Question: I understand that berries of some winterberry cultivars may be too big for birds and may have less nutrition. Should I buy winterberry cultivars? I am in Maryland and have not seen the straight species anywhere. Will deer browse winterberry? Answer: I prefer to use straight species plants whenever…Read More