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As the days grow shorter, gardeners in Canada, face the challenge of preparing their potted plants for winter. There goes a lot of time and effort into creating a stunning container garden, so of course you want to help these plants to get through the winter.
Here are some tips to successfully overwinter your container plants:
- Choose the Right Containers: This is a step that needs to be taken right from the beginning, when choosing a container. Ensure your pots are made of frost-resistant materials like concrete, fiberglass, or thick plastic. Terracotta and ceramic pots can crack in freezing temperatures, so consider moving them to a sheltered location.
- Select Cold-Tolerant Plants: To make overwintering easier, select plants that are naturally cold-hardy or suitable for your climate zone. Some options include ornamental grasses, evergreen shrubs, and winter-flowering perennials.
- Group Plants Together: Cluster your potted plants together. Grouping them means they provide protection for each other, as they create a microclimate that traps heat and reduces exposure to cold winds.
- Mulch the Soil: Apply a layer of mulch over the soil surface to insulate the roots and help maintain more stable soil temperatures. Use materials like straw, shredded leaves, or bark.
- Wrap Pots with Insulation: Consider insulating your pots with materials like bubble wrap, burlap, or specialized pot wraps. This extra layer of insulation can prevent the soil from freezing too deeply. If you don’t like the plastic wrap look, put an extra layer of burlap around the bubble wrap and decorate it with a ribbon.
- Elevate Pots: Raise your pots off the ground by placing them on pot feet or bricks. This prevents the pots from sitting in water, which can freeze and crack the containers. A sheet of Styrofoam will also act as a great insulator from the bottom up.
- Water Sparingly: Reduce watering as plants enter dormancy. Overly wet soil can freeze and damage plant roots. Ensure the soil is slightly moist, but not waterlogged. In very rainy winter climates like the west coast, protect your containers by moving them under an eaves trough.
- Shelter from Harsh Conditions: If possible, move your containers to a sheltered location, such as a covered porch or a cold frame. This will provide extra protection from harsh winter weather.
- Use Windbreaks: If you can't move your containers, consider using windbreaks like burlap screens or trellises to shield plants from drying winter winds.
- Monitor for Pests: Check your plants regularly for signs of pests, as some insects and rodents may seek shelter in container gardens during winter. Deal with any infestations promptly.
- Prune Dead or Diseased Growth: Remove any dead or diseased foliage from your plants. Pruning helps prevent the spread of diseases and encourages healthy growth in the spring.
- Be Patient: Remember that many plants go dormant during the winter, and they may not look their best. Be patient, as they will likely rebound when spring arrives.