Storing your summer plants and equipment over winter is an excellent way to protect them from the elements and keep them safely indoors until spring arrives. The entire process is much easier than you think, and so long as you maintain certain conditions inside, everything will be alright.
So, without further ado, let’s find out how you go about overwintering plants and winterizing equipment.
The five don’ts when overwintering plants
Many people want to keep their favorites alive during winter, so they bring them indoors. After all, freezing temperatures can damage and kill plants. However, improper care inside can easily do so as well.
To prevent that from happening, make sure to avoid these most common mistakes people make when overwintering plants:
- Overwatering is the most common mistake. During winter, most plants go into a dormant state and don’t produce new leaves or buds, so they don’t require much watering. The biggest hazard is root rot. Once that happens, you can rarely save a plant.
- A lack of humidity and dry air will dehydrate your plants during winter. You can increase moisture levels with either a humidifier or a water-filled pebble tray underneath a pot. Another method is to spray water on the leaves regularly.
- Dust is another enemy of plants, damaging them or attracting mites and other pests. That’s why you must clean it off of plants regularly. You can do so with a paper towel or a cloth.
- Placing plants near heating vents and windows is another no-no. They will simply dry out if they are in a direct or indirect line of warm air. Be mindful of cold drafts during winter, for they can easily shock a plant or even damage its leaves.
- Continuing to provide fertilizer is another common mistake. Dormant plants do not require it, and the unabsorbed fertilizer will simply stay in the soil and damage the roots.
Overwintering plants indoors
As a rule of thumb, bring only healthy plants inside. If there are diseases or insects present, make sure you treat your favorites before you take them in. You also want to do that before the frost damages the foliage.
Decide if the plant needs pruning or not. If it’s in the ground, you must dig it up with a sharp spade or a fork, with as much of the root system as possible. Remove the garden soil and place it in a pot, followed by adding a good amount of potting mix.
If your plants have been in a particularly sunny area, you can help decrease the shock from the changes by placing them in a shady area for about a week. That way, they will get used to the low light levels, which will smooth the transition.
Once inside, the main thing is to keep the greens moist. Winter air is usually dry, which is not at all good for your plants. Consider placing a pebbled water tray or two, or even use a humidifier to achieve optimal humidity levels.
Remember, drying out your plants is one of the most common mistakes when overwintering and must be avoided to keep the greens alive.
Check your plants regularly, and don’t forget to clean the leaves of dust. Remember to water sparingly and not use fertiliser.
Once the warm days return, you can start reintroducing your plants to the outdoors. Move them out during the day and take them in for the night, which hardens them off. You must gradually introduce them to exterior conditions so they can acclimate properly. When there’s no more threat of frost, then you can place them in your garden permanently.
Overwintering plants in a conservatory or a greenhouse
A heated conservatory or a greenhouse will give your plants warm and light conditions. The downside is that running either of them can be quite expensive. Providing stable day temperatures between 15-20ºC is quite sufficient. At night there should also be some heat to avoid an extreme drop in temperature.
Without heating, it’s still possible to care for certain plants that can withstand cool temperatures of 5-7ºC at minimum.
The ideal time to relocate plants from the garden into the conservatory or greenhouse depends on the weather. That’s why you must regularly check the forecast in early autumn and be prepared to bring the plants in on short notice if necessary. Depending on where you live, it could be anywhere from September to November.
Before you relocate your plants, check carefully for pests and diseases. Use a border spade or a fork to lift them, then shake off as much soil as possible.
Trim the stems and use fresh compost when you re-pot them. After that, keep them in a cool and dry place. For those grown in containers, it’s fine to store them as they are as long as you trim them and remove any dead or diseased leaves.
Be careful not to overwater your plants. Ensure there’s air movement as well to avoid fungal diseases. Inspect your plants regularly to make sure they’re alright. Be wary of pests like the glasshouse red spider mite and the glasshouse whitefly, for they prefer the warm environments of conservatories and greenhouses.
Storing gardening equipment over winter
Autumn is when all gardeners begin winterizing their gardening tools and equipment. This process is required to avoid any damage and have everything ready next spring, which will also ensure a head start when the warm weather returns.
First and foremost, this means getting the shed ready. Inspect it thoroughly to ensure it’s properly insulated so that no cold and excess moisture get in during the winter, which can damage all your stored belongings.
Next, clean and repair all your gardening equipment and tools. This is to ensure everything will be ready next spring and that nothing gets damaged over winter. Proper maintenance will also increase their lifespan and save you lots of money in the long run.
Sometimes there’s simply an insufficient room in the shed or the garage, or there’s no way to ensure proper conditions. In that case, hiring a storage unit to put all your tools and equipment over winter can greatly help. Climate-controlled storage will also ensure all cold-sensitive items won’t get damaged and will be ready to use the first moment you need them.
The process of overwintering plants allows you to protect all your precious favorites and enjoy them all year round. Properly winterizing all your tools and equipment also saves you money and ensures a good head start when the warmer days return.
But maybe the most satisfying thing about the entire process is when you take your favorite plants back outdoors next spring and begin witnessing the new growth.