The Q&A Archives: Overwintering Potted Perennials

Question: I am planning on growing some perennials in containers this summer, and I would rather not replant them in the garden in the fall. I have read where you can overwinter plants grown in a container by placing them in an unheated garage. What is the best way to go about overwintering container grown perennials in an unheated garage? Do they need any sun or still need to be watered at all?

Answer: To be honest, the plants tend to rot when kept indoors due to temperatures above freezing combined with poor air circulation and low light levels. The crowns suffer the lack of light in early spring and then taking them back outside requires some careful conditioning since they have been so protected. Watering is tricky, too: you need to keep the roots barely moist but not so wet as to encourage rotting. A better alternative if you have a protected spot is to sink the pots into the ground or into a surrounding pile of mulch to insulate the roots and let the tops die back naturally. If you have reliable snowcover the plants should do quite well. A cold frame in a shady protected spot would also be an option.

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