Do you have more plants potted up than you have space for in your garden beds?
A potted perennial in the open winter air will get much colder than your other plants in the ground. So, if you are not sure where to plant it this moment, then an alternate plan is in order. (A side note: A good rule of thumb when buying plants for pots meant to stay outside all winter is to buy plants/shrubs that can handle one or even two hardiness zones colder than where you live.)
One option for your homeless perennials is to "heel in" your plants for the winter months. I believe it is called this because you are burying the pots up to their "heels".
- First, I like to chose a location with a little bit of shelter (ie. a nearby bush, a fence or wall) but it needs not to be covered completely because you want your plant to be watered by the rain and snow.
|My chosen spot: near the fence and lilac bush where they can cozy in for the winter.|
- Next, dig a pot-sized hole to 4-6 inches deep. Deeper will give them more warmth, so if they are your prized baby from your grandmother's rose bush, dig a little more.
- "Plant" your pots, filling soil back around their edges. If I have more than one pot, I plant them snug next to one another. Some gardeners dig a trench, which would be much quicker for a large number of pots.
|Geranium 'Rozanne' and a heuchra planted three inches deep in their pots.|
- Then, tuck some leaves or other mulching material around your pots to give some more insulation. It is a good idea to do this for all young perennials for their first winter, even those planted in the garden borders.
|Night, night pretty plants. Cozy wishes for the winter!|
- In our cold climate, even some of my larger pots with hardy trees and bushes will be safer with a bit of cover. I just potted up a small Japanese maple tree this summer that I would like to ensure makes it thorough the winter. So I buried it a bit and tucked it on the other side of the lilac... just be sure it has enough drainage holes through the bottom of the pot to let moisture escape.
|Potted baby tree heeled in for the winter|
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