Sunday, September 11, 2011

Overwintering questions

This is the hybrid geranium, Caliope with a yellow snapdragon that doesn't know it isn't April any longer.
I also stuck a piece of Autumn Joy in there because it broke off and, what the heck, I have seen sedum do some weird things, so you never know, it might grow!
I often hear gardeners say they over winter plants. For years, I overwintered the Angel Trumpets and tropical hibiscus, when I lived in zone 8. I simply brought the entire pot in and they sat in the rarely used dining room with almost zero sunlight and I may have watered them once a month, if that!? In February, I would drag the pots out and it would start all over again. 
I tried that the first winter we were here. I filled the porch with my houseplants and they loved being outside. A week before the first frost, I brought them back in and everything was fine, until the heater kicked on inside the house. Suddenly we were plagued with every kind of bug and nasty that laid its egg in the pot all summer long. For day I ran around killing Japanese Beetles and June bugs and lightning bugs. I put the plants back outside and let the cold take them. I have never tried it again.
But I see bloggers write about the geraniums and such all the time! Am I doing something wrong? Do you dig them out of the landscape and replant in pots for the house?
Is there anything I should know before I attempt this again?
Zoey always has a throng of pots that she and her husband drag in and out. She leaves the bulbs and corms and perennials in their pots and things work out wonderful for her. I do not have a crawlspace and the garage gets too cold and the basement is too warm, I think, at 68*. 
Do you overwinter plants? Do you have tips? 
Random garden photo, white allium and brown eyed susan. I am digging this out by the shovel full. It is threatening to take over, so it's got to go...

Before I go, I wanted to share something very touching. We all know the significance of today, the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
On Balisha's blog today, I read a poignant post that I think everyone I know would appreciate.
Please check out her post     Meet Me In the Stairwell
Very well said, Balisha. Thank you.


  1. Hi Sissy, I can't take credit for the post today. It was written by Stacey Randall. I thought that it was so well written. I posted it a few years ago and this morning, when I was trying to find the words in my heart...this very special piece came to mind...Balisha

  2. I bet that slip of sedum will grow.

    I used to bring a few plants inside to the basement to overwinter, but it was quite a mess-all the leaves fell off, full of aphids, etc. Now I don't bother with anything that I can't stick in the crawl space.

    I know some people do it well, so maybe they will give you some pointers.

  3. Hi Sissy
    I found some excellent video's on overwintering geraniums on YouTube....and I did that for a few years. You dig up the plant, wash off all the dirt, etc., let it dry off, then put it in a box and put it in your basement. The following spring, you dig them out, cut off all the dead and replant them. It actually works!! BUT---(you knew that was coming!!)---but, now I just wash off the plant thoroughly to remove bugs/eggs/whatever and put them on my windowsill. All winter long I take cuttings and plant those up too. In the spring, I have a LARGE geranium and many many babies. As expensive as some of them are, it's worth a windowsill or two.
    Hope this helps!

  4. Sorry can't help either. My feelings are if it can't live here then I don't want it. I have enough to do without worrying about dragging things in the house. :) I was thinking they had some hardy geraniums for our area now though if overwintering doesn't work out for you.
    Cher Sunray Gardens
    Goldenray Yorkies

  5. Anonymous8:34 PM

    Your basement would be fine for overwintering the geraniums, because they can just be houseplants. And having them downstairs away from the rest of the house should solve the bug problem. That's where I put most of mine, without worrying about the bugs.

  6. Sissy, I don't overwinter a lot of plants, just because I don't have a good spot with enough sunlight. I know some people bring plants in and keep them in their basement, but every time I've tried that, they die for me. But geraniums are pretty easy to keep. Just be sure to wash the plants well with soapy water to kill any insects before bringing them in. I repot mine in fresh potting soil and put them in a cool bedroom with a southern exposure. As long as I remember to keep them watered, these usually do fine.

    I'd like to save two hibiscus this winter, but I don't know where I can put them. Now that Daughter has moved back, though, I've lost my "plant room":)

    Just saw your email, but I didn't have time to reply yet--I live 15 minutes from Champaign!

  7. I can't help either --I've never over-wintered anything. My mom used to drag a bougainvillea out each spring (in southern Michigan) and back in again for the winter. I don't remember bugs being a problem, but maybe that's because I was a kid :-)

  8. I don't bring anything into the house except coleus cuttings. Any pots with tender perennials go into the unheated garage where it's dark, or onto an unheated enclosed porch, and they do ok, with some inevitable losses. I don't think we can overwinter anything in our heated houses in zone 5 or less.

  9. I have a cold room in the basement where I overwinter some plants, it stays cold in there but doesn't freeze so it's perfect. Do you have a deck or stairs outside that you could place your pots under? I know what you mean about Zoey's plants, they always look so beautiful:-)

    I love Black Eyed Susans, they are one of my favourite flowers. My future daughter in law's mother just gave me a pot full of hers so I hope they do well here!! xoxo

  10. I overwinter a lot of plants in the basement, and in our garage stairwell outside the basement. I have a thermometer in the garage stairwell and so far it's never frozen there. Elephant ears and brugmansias overwinter there. I have a light in the basement for the rest. They get a brisk shower before coming indoors, and they are watered sparingly to prevent fungus gnats. I ditched a tropical hibiscus because it brought in whiteflies one year. Spider mites can be a problem sometimes, so the plants get showered off in the laundry tub occasionally.

    Geraniums are easy either in soil or not, and don't seem to have any bug problems. At least they never have for me, as long as they're kept on the dry side if in soil, to keep the fungus gnats away.

    Yep, that sedum will probably root. They're so easy from cuttings. Most of mine here are from cuttings stuck in the soil and not fussed over at all.

  11. I'm also pulling out the Black Eyed (or brown-eyed?) Susans. Mine have a mold on them and the leaves are turning black. I don't want the mold to stay in the ground and cause more problems next year.

  12. Maybe I could help. When you're bringing plants in your need to decontaminate them by spraying them down and checking for bugs. Sometimes it's just better to take cuttings as in the case of the geranium and overwinter them in a bright windowsill. Hope that helps.


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