Lee Valley Tools    Gardening Newsletter
   Vol. 5, Issue 5
   October 2010
   Winterizing Containers and Their Plants

  Winter storage
  Storing containers for the winter

Plastic or stone perennial-plant-filled containers can be left out over winter, if you follow a few simple procedures. First, remove all weeds and dead-plant material. Prune perennials to about 4" (10 cm) when 70% of the leaves turn brown. Let the soil dehydrate to where the top few inches are completely dry. (If the soil is holding too much moisture, it will freeze, expand and cause the pot to crack.) Slide the containers into a large garbage bag (one that's not clear) and secure the end to discourage winter visits from squirrels and voles. Move the covered containers into a sheltered area.

Alternatively, you can store perennial-plant-filled containers in an unheated garage or shed. Remove weeds and prune no more than 30% of the plants. Occasionally, water lightly so that they don't totally dry out. Place them outside in the spring when the frost danger has passed.

Relocating Container Plants Indoors
Follow these simple practices when moving smaller tropical plants or tender perennials inside.

1. Determine if the plant is worth bringing inside. Tender annuals, such as geraniums and marigolds (Tagetes), are often so reasonably priced that it may not be worth the effort to save them or have them take up valuable indoor plant space.
2. Research whether or not the plant will adapt to an indoor environment. Some can't adjust to the lower levels of natural light and the drier environment.
3. Inspect the plant to ensure it's healthy enough to be moved inside.
4. Determine if it needs repotting, as this would be the easiest time to do it. Prune about 1/3 of the plant and roots, and use a container at least 2" (5 cm) larger than the original.
5. Remove all weeds and plant debris and trim any yellowing leaves if you do not plan to repot.
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