The Q&A Archives: Overwintering Patio Plants

Question: I am planning to take in some of my potted plants from my patio to overwinter and wanted to know if it's necessary to change the soil, since I am going to keep them in the same pots? Will my rosemary and coleus thrive if I don't give them fresh soil over the winter, but instead change the soil in the spring?

Also, I have a patio tomato plant and I am not sure if this would be an annual or perennial? If it's an annual, should I take it indoors to hold it until next spring?

Answer: The light will be less and you will be watering less and not fertilizing during the winter so growth will slow. The rosemary is a relatively slow growing shrubby type of plant, so it should do fine until next spring without repotting unless it has become very potbound. The coleus may have grown enough over the summer that it could need repotting. However, if it has become woody with age you may want to start cuttings of it and discard the original plant. If the tomato is an indeterminate one, it could theoretically live for years. In normal household conditions, however, it probably will not continue to bear fruit indoors and may languish over the winter. For this reason, most people start anew each spring with young, vigorous and healthy tomato plants. Finally, just to clarify, annuals live only one season -- the grow, flower, set seed and die all the same year.

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