The Q&A Archives: Radiation Bush Lantana: Winter storage

Question: I bought this bush because I planned to plant it in my sunny backyard. However, before digging the hole I re-read the description and it says it's cold hardiness for Zones 9-11 is only 20-30 degrees F. I'm just outside of Chicago and our winters go that far below zero! Rather than plant the bush in the ground, I put it in a large planter. How can I keep it going during the winter so it can go back outside in the spring?

Can I store it in the garage? Do I let it go dormant or should I buy a plant light and pretend it's summer all year round?

Thank you for your help.

Janet Baier

Answer: You have a choice in how to try to overwinter this plant. You can allow it to go essentially dormant by storing it cool (40 to 45 degrees, soil barely damp meaning not bone dry, no fertilizer) or try to keep it growing by treating it like an ordinary house plant -- with as much light as possible. A bright southern or western window or a room with windows on two sides will help, and a cooler room temperature is also helpful, say 65 days and a bit cooler at night.

If you keep it growing, cut back on the fertilizer as the days shorten and pinch out the tips to keep it from getting so leggy. Keep an eye ot for spider mites and whiteflies once it is indoors.

Either way, it will need a hard pruning by spring (this will help it regrow dense and bushy) and a gradual reacclimation to the outdoors once temperatures are reliably in the fifties. Good luck with your project!

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