Potted plants provide an easy and decorative way to care for plants. Almost any kind of plant can grow in a pot if it is large enough. Even some trees are placed in large pots. The disadvantage to potted plants is that during the winter there is much less natural insulation for plant roots. There are several solutions that are recommended for dealing with potted plants during the winter to allow the plants to grow back healthily the next spring.
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Wintering potted plants provides many benefits for their long term health. Not only does winterising the pots save the plant from dying during freezing temperatures, but it also can help with growth the following year. Many plants can become stunted with extended freezing temperatures, which can take years to come back from. Protecting the plant from the elements helps produce healthy, even growth.
There are several things to consider before winterising potted plants for the year. The first consideration is the type of plant. Many plants are perfectly fine with freezing temperatures, and some even need freezing temperatures for healthy growth the next year. Usually the only plants that need winterising are non-native plants, such as tropical plants and desert plants. If the climate is consistently freezing the entire winter, then some plants may need more insulation than others. A climate that has few freezes will not require heavy insulation.
For rare freezes, or for plants that can take light freezes but not heavy freezes, a temporary insulation solution may be enough to keep the plants alive until spring. Brooklyn Botanical Garden recommends plant pots be wrapped in bubble wrap, plastic bags or burlap sacks for temporary or sudden freezes.
Some plants will require insulation all winter. One of the easiest ways to do this is to tie back branches and wrap the entire pot in chicken wire. The chicken wire is staked to the ground and then mulch, leaves and compost are placed inside the wire to add insulation. Burlap sacks or plastic bags are then wrapped around the chicken wire cage, and finally the entire surface is covered in chicken wire. A less extreme measure is to place the entire pot in a large hole in the yard during the winter.
Not every plant can survive, even with insulation. Some plants, such as tropical plants, will die if the temperature even approaches freezing. A freeze too late in the year can also damage insulated plants. The best way to avoid this is to plant cold-hardy plants in areas with heavy or frequent frosts.
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