While we spend much of winter keeping warm indoors, plants growing in pots in your patio/balcony can have a tough time coping with the cold weather. In this post I’ll talk about few of the methods you can try to safeguard your plants. Thus helping you to avid the cost of replanting, re seeding or buying a brand new plant.
We live in an apartment, we have two patios to place our pots. At any point of time we have more than 10 pots with flowering or fruiting plants. Even during winter as winter in south Florida is like fall months in rest of the country. For us container gardening is a year round pleasure.
But, most of my readers live in cold areas where temperature even goes down below zero. Causing damage to plants as well as pots.
The occasional cold fronts or a longer period of chilly weather can damage roots and shoots, There might be shattered pots or frozen plants in your patio resulting from extreme cold. Causing your hard work go waste. Here are some tips to keep your plants in better shape over the winter.
Protecting pots from frost
In extreme low temperature, humidity and winter storms could damage your pots heavily. Make sure you protect the fragile and vulnerable ones. Here’s how you can do it
1. Remove dead plants and remove soil. You can put soil from all such pots and reuse next year after fertilizing it. Put the empty pots for winter storage
2. During freeze and frost cycles moisture can crack terracotta pots. Put them in dry and sheltered area like your garage, storage room or even attic.
3. Glass or ceramic pots or the ones which are glazed both sides, can be emptied and stored away too. If they still contain plants, make sure not to eater them to avoid cracking due to expanding soil
4. This is for your future buying needs, consider buying polythene, plastic or even wooden pots, they are best equipped to sustain chilly weather. These can be left as it is during winter months.
5. Fragile pots can even protected further by bubble wrapping them or filling the empty pots with dry leaves or straw. They can be stored in warmer areas.
Wrapping up garden full of containers is hard, to make it easier, push them up against the wall, where it’s warmer then pack them together tightly so they insulate each other. a single strip of bubble wrap can now be used for the entire set of pots.
Tropical, annuals and perennials need careful protection from cold and frost to help them survive. Sheets of horticultural fleece, bubble wrap and straw can be used to protect the tops of plants.
In extreme measure you can take cuttings and store them indoor in case the main plant dies.
Plants that must remain outdoors requires special care. To prevent the branches and shrubs from whipping around and breaking in winter, loosely tie branches together after the leaves have dropped.
Evergreen plants can be sprayed with an antitranspirant, and may need to be protected against chilly weather and winter sun with burlap screens. You can also think of moving as many plants as possible indoor, after cutting off the damaged branches and making sure the leaves doesn’t contain bugs or ants.
I have seen my friends prune the plants to bare minimum and washing the leaves before moving them indoor. Also, you can treat with bug repellents for few weeks before moving them indoor.
Make sure to store them against windows from where they can get sun light. You can also get ready-made greenhouses made of glass or plastic. You may buy a mini greenhouse for the cost of around $50 or so. This can be helpful if you do not have much space indoor to store the plants.
Other winter survival techniques
Plants left outdoor in pots are vulnerable to excessive moisture caused by winter snow. Wet, soggy soil building up at the base of pots can result in roots being starved of oxygen leading to rotting and eventually dying. To avoid problems, always buy pots with drainage holes in the base and fill with soil with right drainage.
You can protect root system by mulching the base excessively or even wrapping the base of the pot around the stem with plastic film. You can transfer small containers into a bigger frame packed with sand or straw.You can create a small room like structure with hay walls and plastic or glass roof.
Even you can make a canopy with polythene sheets and cover your entire patio. I have seen people doing this in Massachusetts neighborhood we visited a few years back. Create temporary wooden structure that are strong enough to sustain winter storms and easy enough to dismantle and reuse every year. The structure can then be covered with plastic sheet to create a temporary green house.
Readers, as winter is in full swing in many parts of the country, how are you protecting your plants and pots? Do share your ideas and stories.