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How to overwinter your potted plants

In growing zone 5b, we don’t get the all year warmth of California or southern states, and our winters are generally pretty cold. As Thanksgiving nears, average temperatures are continuing to drop, which means that if you haven’t already, it’s time to start thinking about which plants you may want to overwinter. Overwintering is the storage of plant material over the winter season when a plant goes dormant. This can be done with potted perennials that may need a little additional shelter or even some cold tolerant annual varieties. Keep reading to learn a bit about what overwintering is, and which plants respond best to the practice.

As explained by our Garden Center Manager and Horticulturalist, Sean Ducey, “overwintering is the storage of plant material over the winter season. The type of overwintering will depend on the type of plant. Tropicals will need to be brought into the home and plants that need to go through a dormant season will need to be put into an uninsulated shed or unheated garage.”

You can overwinter a lot of what you may have growing in your landscape during any given growing season. Geraniums, roses, perennial shrubs, caladium, calla lily, canna, dahlia are all plants that can be overwintered. If these plants are in pots, simply bring them into an area where they will be protected from the harshest of the winter’s cold. You can also dig these plants up and put them in pots to overwinter, for less cold hardy varieties. Cold hardy herbs like rosemary, lavender and sage are all great plants to overwinter if you have them growing in pots outside.

Because the sun is less strong than the growing season and there are fewer hours of daylight, you can consider adding a grow light to your indoor garden. As explained by HGTV, “if the light coming through your windows isn’t bright enough or you live in an area that gets only a few hours of daylight in the winter, supplement the light with fluorescents or grow lights. Set timers to give your plants a rest period — that is, some darkness — every day.”

Overwintering plants from your landscape that may otherwise die in the winter is a great way to keep plants living for multiple growing seasons, allowing you to experience the full breadth of a plant’s life cycle. Overwintering can also save you some money if you can save any higher value plants that may otherwise need to be replaced the following year. If you have any questions on overwintering, feel free to ask someone the next time you’re at Whispering Hills.

Whispering Hills Garden and Landscape Center is a full service landscape center and nursery located in Cary, Illinois. Stop in today for our full selection of deciduous trees and shrubs, now 50% off. (Updated: 11/17/21)

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