The Q&A Archives: wintering container perennials

Question: Hi again! I found a better way to ask my question about the raspberry ice bougainvilla and Camillia X Winter's Fire: How can I winter them indoors? How do I transplant them? They are both indoors now, in the containers I bought them in in July. I could put them in a garden in the park (I live in NYC) but wonder if they would survive the winter and also if I can dig them up each year to grow on my terrace?? Thanks very much! Beth NYC P.S. I do have good sun in my apartment.

Answer: Bougainvillea hates to be transplanted. I would not recommend planting it in the ground and then digging it up to bring it indoors. It would be much better off if left in a container year round. This will also make it easier to move it indoors each fall. Bougainvillea does best when it is somewhat potbound, so delay moving it to a larger container for as long as possible. When you do eventually have to move it up, use a well drained soil mix and repot only in the spring. This plant can be maintained as a house plant in winter, if your window is bright enough it may continue to bloom. It will probably become leggy and need to be cut back, do so in winter or immediately following a bloom period. (It is a cyclical bloomer.)

The camellia is winter hardy outdoors in New York City -- if it is planted in the ground and has protection from the winter wind. If you can, it would be preferable to plant it in the ground permanently. It is a shade loving plant, so give it shade or filtered shade, it also needs organic, evenly moist yet well drained soil that is acidic. As a container plant, you would need to keep it in a much cooler room rather than at normal household temperatures; if kept too warm it will not bloom. Again, it would not be a good idea to plant it in the ground and then dig it up to bring inside each fall, this is very stressful on the plant. If you have to grow it in a container, keep it in the pot year round.

I hope this helps.

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