The Q&A Archives: How do I overwinter Brugmansia in the house?

Question: This summer I have been growing a Brugmansia for the first time and would like to winter it over in the house. What is the best exposure for this plant and should I also take cuttings from it now? It is only about 1 foot high, too immature this year to push out blooms, but do you think that it will get taller overwinter? What type of fertilizer is recommended? Watering practice. Thank you for helping a newbie.


Answer: The truth is, overwintering tropical plants can be a bit of a challenge. You can either try bringing the plant indoors and growing it in a sunny window sill, or allowing it to go dormant and keeping it alive in an unheated garage or basement. If you bring it inside, place it in the brightest spot you have and keep the soil moist but not wet. A greenhouse would be perfect, but failing that, provide average household temperatures, don't feed until spring, pinch back the tips of the stems to encourage dense, bushy growth, and mist the plants every few days to counteract dry air.

If you want to keep it in an unheated basement or garage, your Brugmansia should be brought indoors before the first frost. Let the plants rest in a cool place (40 to 50 degrees F) with little or no light?they'll get the message that winter has arrived and their leaves will gradually yellow and drop. The plants can then spend the winter in an unheated basement, root cellar, unheated garage, or even a cool closet. Make sure the area is relatively dark (try enclosing the whole pot loosely inside a heavy black trash bag) and that the air temperature stays above freezing. In most cases, woody-stemmed tropicals should not be cut back until early spring (unless you can't fit them into the house!). Water the plants sparingly throughout the winter, checking monthly to see that the soil is barely moist. When early spring arrives, revive the plants by repotting them in fresh soil. Water thoroughly and provide a weak dose of liquid fertilizer. Expose the plants to bright, filtered light, gradually acclimating them to full sun. Try to give them about a month of indoor (or greenhouse) growing time before moving them outdoors.

Best wishes with your garden!

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