The Q&A Archives: Wintering Unplanted Perennials

Question: I got some great late-season perennial bargains in late October: butterfly bushes, hardy asters and mums. Unfortunately they are still in their pots in my backyard, unplanted, covered with snow. What should I do? Are they still alive? Should I put them in my garage? Put mulch over them?

Answer: The main risk to the plants is that the roots may freeze. Snow is a good insulator, so they may be okay. The best thing to do if possible is to insulate the roots as best you can and keep them in a sheltered location out of the wind. Heaping mulch around the pots (not over the crowns) is one method, another is to put them in a cold frame. If the ground isn't frozen, you might try planting them pot and all. An unheated garage may work, but if it is too warm you will risk fungal infection and the plants may come out of dormancy prematurely. Good luck with your plants!

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