The Q&A Archives: Overwintering Annuals

Question: I have a few annuals, such as coleus and New Guinea impatiens, that are very beautiful. I know that annuals die at the end of the season and don't return the following summer like perennials do, but I was wondering if I could transplant these annuals indoors thru the winter and replant them outdoors next summer. Or do annuals only last one season no matter what the conditions are?

Answer: Some annuals are technically perennial plants or shrubs in their native warmer climates. Others, such as coleus, are not terribly long lived no matter where they grow. You can try digging them up, repotting and cutting them back, and they will probably survive the winter for you. However, by next spring the plants may be very rangy and nearing exhaustion. For this reason, many gardeners will take cuttings of their favorites and keep them over the winter. Then, in spring, they will take new cuttings and/or plant these replacements outside again. This way there are always newer and more vigorous plants and an insurance policy (the mother plant plus cuttings) against loss.

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