Over-wintering Container Plants
Many gardeners wonder what to do with container plants they'd like to save for the following growing season. This may be especially important for containers of deciduous and evergreen woody plants and perennials. Annuals, like petunias, will not survive in Colorado's winters.
There are several options available to gardeners. In November, after soils have cooled, the first option is to sink the pot (plant and all) into a hole dug in the garden. Water well and then mulch with six to 12 inches of straw, hay, shredded bark or leaves. The roots of the container will be protected from varying winter temperatures by mulch and site soil. Monthly watering may be necessary if natural precipitation does not occur.
The second option is to cluster container plants together under the eave of the house. Choose a protected spot, either on the north or east side where there is minimal temperature fluctuation. Place larger pots on the outside, with smaller pots in the middle. Water well and heavily mulch the sides and tops of the containers. Water plants every two weeks to prevent winter desiccation. As the plants begin to grow in the spring, remove the mulch and allow pots to warmer temperatures.
The final option is to over-winter the containers in an unheated garage or shed. Mulch isn't necessary, but water is still very important.
Clay pots may suffer breakage outdoors from water seeping into the porous material, then freezing and thawing. Store clay pots in a garage or shed.
Do you have a question? Try Ask an Expert!
Updated Friday, April 19, 2013