Successfully overwinter container plants - the right winter protection

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Hibiscus rosa - sinensis

Depending on their origin and their requirements, a plant may hibernate outside or must be brought into the house for the cool months. In the following we distinguish between hardy, moderately hardy and non-hardy potted plants.

Winter hardy potted plants overwinter

Our native plants or those from comparable climatic zones have gradually adapted to the different conditions in the different seasons. For this reason, appropriate potted plants are largely frost hardy and average winter can spend confidently outside. Nonetheless, some measures should be taken to ensure that plants are doing well both during and after the cool season.
Examples of potted plants that can overwinter in the field:
  • Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens)
  • Bamboo (Bambusoideae)
  • Grape heather (Leucothoe)
  • Sun hat (Echinacea)
  • Lavender heather (Pieris)
For hardy potted plants, special attention should be given to the delicate root system. It is best to place the respective bucket on a wooden or styrofoam plate. Furthermore, it is recommended that the tub be lined with styrofoam from the inside and possibly integrate a brush cover. Not to forget that you can creatively wrap the plant with fleece or jute. These aids provide the plant with additional protection against the freezing cold.
To protect the planter in the winter from cracks, it is buried before the frosty time begins and the ground is too hard for it. Even if the plant bale expands during the winter, no cracks can occur, because the surrounding earth counteracts this. A good location for winter hardy potted plants that stay out in the cool season is the house wall. If they are placed close to each other, they "warm" and protect each other, so to speak.

Do not hibernate winter hardy potted plants

Container plants from the Mediterranean region are usually not hardy - no wonder they know no frost from their home. In other words, due to the lack of necessity, these plants have never developed an "antifreeze" in themselves. If they suddenly come into contact with minus temperatures in our gardens, they are damned to die: the water freezes in the cells, which subsequently destroys them.
After only one frosty night, you find the plant in catastrophic condition and must give it away. Leafy leaves and / or black-colored branches are clear signs of this. Accordingly, the owner of sensitive potted plants is required to overwinter his treasures internally.
Examples of non-frosty potted plants that must be brought home in winter:
  • all citrus plants (Citrus and Fortunella)
  • Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa sinensis)
  • Angel trumpet (Brugmansia, Datura)
  • Violet shrub (Iochroma)
  • Gardenia (Gardenia)
Not hardy potted plants need a roof over their heads. It is best to stay in the conservatory. But of course, not every hobby gardener is in possession of this luxurious facility. Alternatively, bright cellar rooms, garages and staircases are also suitable.

Snowball - Viburnum opulus

Important: In the selected winter quarters should not be heated if possible. At temperatures between 5 and 10° C the potted plants feel very well.
Of course, it is also important to consider the peculiarities of each plant. Here are two more general examples:
  • Potted plants that shed leaves prefer dark rooms and low temperatures, otherwise they sprout too early.
  • In contrast, evergreens, such as laurel or oleander, tolerate no absolute darkness. However, low temperatures are also essential for them to shut down their metabolism.
TIP: Depending on the type of plant, the bucket can reach a decent weight. In order to avoid that the transport into the house becomes a real Herculean task, we advise to think of a practical plant scooter already at the purchase of the plant.
Note: If you do not have the opportunity to provide the necessary environment for your non hardy potted plant, it makes sense to use the wintering service of a nursery. There, the care of the plant is taken over on request. After the frosty time you pick up his plant again.

Conditionally winter hardy potted plants overwinter

Whether conditionally hardy potted plants can stay out or be brought into the house, depends primarily on the region in which they are to come through the winter.
Rules of thumb:
  • Due to frost-hard potted plants tolerate a few degrees below zero (to about -5° C).
  • At local minimum temperatures, which do not fall below this value, the plants can overwinter outside.
  • If you live in a place where winter temperatures often drop below -5° C, the potted plants should hibernate in a suitable room.
Examples of conditionally hardy potted plants:
  • Olive
  • Passionflower (Passiflora)
  • Snowball (Viburnum)
  • Hydrangea
  • Miniature Palm (Chamaerops)
If you want to hibernate winter hardy plants outdoors, a certain amount of experience on the part of the gardener is an advantage, in order to always interpret the signals of the green creature correctly and to be able to react appropriately. In any case, the potted plants should be protected. In this regard, our tips from the section "winter frosty potted plants overwinter".

Maintain potted plants in winter time adequately

The optimal spatial conditions are important. In addition, however, adequate care also plays a decisive role. Only through proper casting behavior and rapid reactions in the event of a pest infestation can the plant be safely transported through the winter. Watering is also essential in the cool season.
However, the motto is: Less is more.
The sparing administration of water is always only appropriate when the top layer of potting soil feels dry. In order not to miss this moment, you simply carry out the well-known finger test regularly. Basically, the casting is at most once a week.
Fertilization is not required throughout the winter period - on the contrary, it should be deliberately avoided so as not to encourage the plant to flower at the wrong moment. To avoid fungal diseases, it is advisable to collect fallen leaves continuously. In winter, the plants drive down their metabolism. This makes them especially susceptible to pests. Therefore, it is important to check the branches and leaf undersides daily to be able to intervene immediately when pests show up.


Note: Container plants exposed to infestation before wintering should be placed in a separate location. This prevents a possible infection of other plants.

Pests on potted plant pests

Anyone who notices that pests are working on the plant must act quickly. Among the potential pests are aphids, caterpillars and spider mites.
Although aphids are relatively harmless, but occur frequently in winter - and the mass may well cause damage. After all, the countermeasure is simple: all you have to do is blow off the leaves from below. In order to protect the plant bales from too much moisture, you make do with a simple plastic bag.
Caterpillars sometimes smuggle into winter quarters. They can be eliminated by mere collection. It is advisable to wear protective gloves during this procedure to avoid any allergic reactions.
Spider mites can be treated with water again. When they are misted with the liquid, they commonly seek out the space quickly. A possible alternative is to spray the spider mites with a solution of soft soap.
TIP: Showering off the undersides of the leaves with water is generally a good option for combating pests - whether in winter, spring or summer.

After the winter time

Once the frosty season is over and temperatures remain stable above 10° C, the potted plants are allowed to gradually return to their proper place in the open air. The ice saints are a good guideline for the perfect time, because at the latest after the traditional days of remembrance, the spring has taken over the command in the rule.
Attention: It does not make sense to throw the container plant into the cold - or rather warm - water from now on. To avoid the unfavorable outdoor shock, you should gradually familiarize them with their summery area.
Here are some hints:
The container plant is best used after the long winter slowly to the full brightness and warmth of sunlight. This means that they are first shaded and then gradually brighter and sunnier. Finally, the plant receives its intended location.
Rule of thumb: At least the first two weeks after the winter, the plant should spend in a shady pitch - with little sun exposure. Exposing them to the intense sun too soon threatens the young shoots and leaves to suffer a sunburn.
What else is important:
After the winter season, every container plant must be repotted. It's best to pull out of the old container when the earth is wet. Knowing this fact helps to provide a suitable moment for repotting.

Olive tree - Olea europaea

Did roots grow out of the hole at the bottom of the bucket? Then just do not grab the pruning shears and make short work of it. It is better to sacrifice the vessel. Clay pots are broken, plastic pails carefully cut open with sharp scissors. Care should be taken not to damage the plant.
Tip: If the vessel consists of clay, one can use the shards later for drainage purposes.
The earth may not close the vent hole in the new pot, otherwise waterlogging threatens every casting process. And waterlogging is known to be extremely dangerous to almost any plant (rot). To prevent this, so a drainage is placed. The hole is covered with a potsherd. Then a layer of gravel is placed and then follows the potting soil.
As far as the new planter is concerned, the following aspects should be considered:
  • It should provide about two fingers more space around the bale.
  • It should not be black if possible. A black planter absorbs so much heat in the summer that the container plant can be damaged.
Tip: The black pot is unfortunately already present? No problem, it just has to be painted over in a light color. Already he can easily be used.
As soon as the new planter is ready, gently tear the root ball, which has survived the winter well. So you worry that new fiber roots can form, which promote the growth and prosperity of the plant in the sequence. In the resulting holes and around the bale, the substrate is filled. Classic potting soil from peat and lime-free clay is very well suited for most plants.
The correct wintering of the potted plants is essential to be able to experience a magical flowering again next year. Especially Mediterranean genera must be brought into the house during the frosty months. In contrast, plants from our latitudes can often stay outdoors, but they also need some frost protection. It is therefore important to be aware of what the respective plant needs in the cool season before initiating the wintering measures.

Video Board: How to Care for Plants in Containers in Winter.

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