Winterizing Houseplants and Container Gardens: What to Do with All These Plants!

Winterizing houseplants and container gardens is vital if you want them to survive the colder months.

When it’s sunny and hot outside, it can do wonders for your houseplants to put them outdoors. It livens them up and gives them all the nutrients that can only come from the sun. Likewise, if you grow container gardens, the best place for them is outdoors in the sunshine.

But what happens when the weather turns cold? What to do with all these plants?

After all, most plants that grow in containers won’t survive outdoors once winter hits. That’s why winterizing houseplants and container gardens is so important.

Let’s learn how to winterize houseplants and container gardens so you can enjoy them again year after year.

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Know Your Hardiness Zone

Before we talk about winterizing houseplants and container gardens, it’s important to understand what hardiness zone you live in.

When you know your zone, you can look at charts and maps to determine what your freeze dates are. That will tell you when to begin planning to winterize your plants.

Winterizing Houseplants and Container Gardens: What Are Your Options?

Woman with Plants

Winterizing houseplants and container gardens doesn’t look the same for every gardener.

How you do it will depend on whether you plan to bring the entire pot inside, replant it in the ground, or shelter it from the elements.

Here are the steps you should take for each method.

Bring the plant indoors

If the plant isn’t too heavy, you can bring the plant inside of your home until the frigid weather passes. Here’s how to do it.

A few months before you plan to bring the plants indoors, you need to begin a pest control regimen. This will kill and prevent pests from clinging to the plant and traveling with it indoors.

Fertilome Triple Action: Insecticide, Fungicide, and Miticide is a product that is designed for this use. When using it, be sure to spray all parts of the plant, including the soil, to kill any bugs in the pot.

If you prefer to use something organic, Greenive Neem Oil will also kill the bugs but without the harsh chemicals.

Whichever method you choose to use, you will need to dilute the product according to the directions and then fill a spray bottle, like the Chapin 20000 Garden Sprayer, with the mixture.

Ready the plant

Once the temperatures outside reach about 50 degrees, it’s time to move the plants indoors. But before you do, you will need to check that the plant is healthy enough to stay potted in its current pot.

If your plants have any of these indicators, you will have to repot them:

  • After watering, the plant quickly wilts
  • The soil in the pot dries out quickly
  • Roots are visible on the surface of the soil
  • The new growth on the plant has smaller leaves

If you have to repot the plant, use a new pot that is two-inches wider or less than the old pot.

Also, be sure to use a potting mix that will allow for good drainage and optimum growth. One such mix is Black Gold 1310102 8-Quart All Purpose Potting Soil with Control.

It is made for indoor plants and includes a slow-release fertilizer that will help your plant continue to grow and stay healthy.

Set it up for success

Now that your plant is happily sitting in a new pot, it’s time to remove any spindly stems or old foliage. This will give your plant proper airflow and help encourage growth.

Spray your plant again with the Fertilome Triple Action: Insecticide, Fungicide, and Miticide for good measure.

If you used a different potting mix that doesn’t include a good fertilizer, you will need to add some to the pot. Nature's Source Plant Food is a good choice because it can be used for both indoor and outdoor plants.

Place the plant next to a window or other areas where it gets plenty of sunshine or use grow lights. Your plant should continue to thrive and grow until it’s time to take it back outside.

Winterize container plants so they remain outdoors

Winter Plant

You may not have room inside your house, especially if you are winterizing a container garden. Or, some people may not have a sunny window where the plants can sit.

In that case, winterizing potted houseplants and container gardens and leaving them outdoors may be right for you.

If you plan to use this method, make sure you use the rights pots. That’s because some pots, like untreated terra cotta, can crack under the strain of freezing temperatures. To prevent pots from breaking, use plastic pots.

Here are steps to protecting your plants outdoors while the winter rages on around them.

Take a second look at your plants

Not all container plants can be safely winterized and left outdoors. To determine whether yours can, you need to know your hardiness zone and the zone of the plant.

For the best results, the plants should be rated two hardiness zones colder than your area.

For instance, if you live in hardiness zone seven, the plant should be rated for hardiness zone five for the best chance of survival.

Find a snuggle spot

Containers alone won’t protect your plants from the cold, but submerging the container in the dirt will give them that extra layer of warmth.

Start by finding an area of your lawn or garden that is protected from the elements as much as possible. Then, dig a hole that is a little deeper than the container.

Next, spread a layer of gravel in the bottom of the hole. This is important because, at certain temperatures, the soil in the pot will freeze.

Then, as spring arrives, that soil will begin to thaw. But because it will thaw sooner than the ground underneath it, you must provide a way for the water to drain — and the gravel will do just that.

Backfill the hole with the surrounding dirt, ensuring that the pot is a little lower than the surrounding dirt. Then, add mulch such as leaves or straw to the top of the dirt.

What happens in spring?

Once spring — and spring rains — come, it’s time to move the plant back to its warm-weather spot.

That’s because once the ground begins to thaw and the rains begin, the pot will soak in water if it’s not moved.

By now, the plant will be sprouting new growth and be ready for warmth again in a nice, sunny spot.

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Winterize houseplants and container gardens by sheltering them

Sometimes, you can give your plants shelter and prevent the cold temperatures from killing them.

The idea behind this method is to create a space that provides warmth for the plants, despite the raging cold around them.

But don’t look for a sunny spot—the idea is to stop the swing between temperature ranges as that will kill your plants. Instead, look for a sheltered, shady spot.

Here is how to shelter your plants during the winter.

Huddle up

By cluttering your potted plants together against the wall of your home, you will accomplish two things.

First, the wall will act as a wind barrier, which will help keep the temperatures from dropping. Next, the clustered plants will each radiate heat keeping the others warm.

Add some heat

Now that your plants are gathered together, it’s time to add some additional warmth. Start by covering the pots with straw, leaves, or another layer of warmth.

Take an extra step by placing each pot inside of a larger one and filling the gap between the pots with soil or mulch. Doing this will reduce the temperature swings and give your plants a better chance of survival.

Build a silo

If you want an extra layer of protection, you can build a silo around the pots with stakes and chicken wire. Then, fill the silo with leaves, hay, or other mulch so that it covers the pots.

You can also use agricultural fabric to add some warmth. This extra heat is a great way to ensure your plants will last through the winter.

You can also put the clustered plants in an unheated greenhouse or hoop house to give them that extra layer of warmth.

Winterizing houseplants: A note about annuals

Snowy Plant

If you’re like most gardeners, you buy annuals for their beautiful bright flowers. But once fall rolls around, you throw them away and buy replacements once the weather warms up.

But what if we told you that it’s possible to winterize houseplants and container gardens that are made up of annuals?

It’s true.

By bringing your annuals indoors, you can keep them alive. Then, once spring comes around again, you can place them outdoors again to enjoy them for another season.

Here are the steps to bring your annuals indoors so they will be ready to beautify your yard again once the chance of a frost disappears.

Know your annuals

Annuals come in five types: cool-season annuals, warm-season annuals, tender annuals, half-hardy annuals, and hardy annuals.

The only type of annual you can safely winterize and leave outdoors is a hardy annual. The remaining types need to be brought indoors.

Prepare the containers

Your first step is to purchase enough containers to hold the annuals. These containers should be a minimum of a half-inch in diameter and should have drainage holes.

Instead of filling the containers with native soil, fill them with potting soil, perlite, and sphagnum moss.

Mosser Lee Long Fibered Sphagnum Moss is a great choice because it has a high rate of water retention, which will reduce your watering time.

Dig them up

Now it’s time to dig up the beautiful plants that have graced your garden during warmer months.

To do so, use a spade to dig a hole a few inches deep around the plant. Then, use the spade to carefully lift up the plant.

Plant them in a container, three inches apart. The number of containers you will need depends on how many annuals you plan to bring indoors.

Once the annuals are firmly planted in the pots, spread a two-inch layer of mulch around them and water the plants. Place them in a sunny spot near a window.

After the last frost of the year, you can replant the annuals in your garden.

Winterizing Houseplants and Container Gardens: It’s Your Move!

Now that you understand the methods of winterizing houseplants and container gardens, there is no reason to allow your plants to die off during the cold, winter months.

Instead, you can take some precautions that will help them get through the cold winter months. Then, once the weather warms up again, your plants will be ready to make your home beautiful again!

Do you have any tips of your own for winterizing houseplants and container gardens? Share them with us in the comments.

Last update on 2021-10-17 at 10:03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API