Potted perennials can become the bright spot in your garden, and home, as soon as the weather begins to change and the growing season winds down. Low maintenance plants like these are often easy to overlook once the weather begins to change, but preparing potted perennials for winter is especially important. A lot of the difference in the type of care and preparation that is needed depends on how far north you live, but in general, extra protection is always needed.
Before the first frost hits your area, you should begin preparing your potted plants so that they will survive the long winter months so that they continue to grow and bloom the following season.
Preparing Potted Perennials for Winter
Allow For Dormancy
Perennial plants all require a period of dormancy, in which they are allowed to store energy for the next season and discontinue stem, leaf and floral growth. In order to encourage this period, make sure that you regularly water right up until the first frost, and then cut those waterings back to push dormancy to begin.
Wrapping Perennial Plants Remaining Outdoors
In milder climate areas, where winter is not long and harsh, you can wrap your perennial plants in the pots they are in. Wrapping provides the protection that they need, keeping roots warm, but still allowing them to go dormant. Plants must be cut back, making them both easy to manage, but also forcing them into their dormant stage.
Pots can remain outdoors, or in an outdoor shelter. Either way, add mulch to the top of the soil and then wrap the pots completely with burlap. Cover each pot with two to three layers of burlap before wrapping bubble wrap over the burlap. Finally, an additional layer of burlap should be used over the entire plant. Move pots to a sheltered corner of the yard if you do not place them in an outdoor shelter.
Planting Potted Perennials
Transferring your potted perennials to the garden is a great idea if you do not have room to pull pots into your home but know that the perennials will not be able to survive the winter in the pot. Perennials winter in the ground on a normal basis, where the soil is able to protect them from the cold. Entire pots can be planted straight into the soil, or perennials can be removed from the pots and then planted into the garden bed individually. The entire root system must be covered with soil entirely and protected with a layer of mulch. When spring returns, root balls can be returned to pots where they can continue to grow without delay.
Storing Potted Perennials Indoors
One of the most popular ways to prepare potted perennials for winter is to bring them indoors where they can be allowed to go dormant. Plants should be cut back to just above the soil line and wrapped as already described. To promote dormancy in the slightly warmer temperatures, store pots in a dark corner of your home where they will be forced to begin their winter sleep.