I am moving to Floyd, VA, elevation 2850'. Apparently the winters are more severe than I realized. Zone 6 (b?). I just took down a bunch of azaleas and roses. The roses are ready to be put in large pots, and I am doing the same with the azaleas. However, the local nursery said they will not make it through the winter without protection.
My options are to construct some kind of frame and staple heavy duty clear plastic, or corrugated translucent/clear hard plastic, or put them into one of two available spaces: a unheated windowless workshop where I could enclose them in a makeshift plastic tent and then put a small heater inside the smaller enclosure and provide light with fluorescent bulbs. The other is also unheated and is a regular school/classroom trailer. It does have windows. I could do something like that there as well.
Actually, the final possibility is encasing the elevated landing in heavy duty plastic and insulating the decklike floor. I could access this directly from the house. There is an outside electrical connection so that I could put in a small thermostatically controlled electric heater.
The final possibility is to purchase a portable, temporary greenhouse and put that into the classroom trailer with the little heater. Although it is getting cold, I think I may have a window of about 2 or 3 weeks to do something to save them.
Does any one have any other suggestions or advice for one of these plans?
Oh yes, the nursery said that they might make it insulated in sawdust. I thought maybe hay? I don't know that I can get sawdust delivered.
First, sawdust would work - but so does straw(hay or even pine straw) or even leaves. The trick with straw is to 'fluff' it - not leave it in the bales. The trick is to provide a 'warmer air' barrier to your plants' roots - much like a down coat on you.
Based on your options and trying to estimate the costs involved (which could be off, of course - you'll have to do your own price comparisons)...I'm thinking the portable greenhouse in the trailer might be your best option. You can get the pop-up or inflatable greenhouses fairly cheaply these days & it will save you costs over the winter by not having to heat the whole trailer. And I'm guessing it will be cheaper than either insulating the landing or buying enough grow-lights for the windowless space. You can even insulate around the base of the plants with leaf&litter bags filled with leaves, hay or straw - but the heater would probably be enough on its own.
(Hint: some well-positioned mirrors - or polished sheet metal scraps or foil-wrapped cardboard if those are cheaper - might add a bit more light - and heat - into the trailer, if your windows are small or badly spaced)
personally, i wrap each plant heavily with several layers of newspaper, then cover them in several layers of boxes for insulation. both newspaper and cardboard boxes are good insulation for plants. i do these for both indoor and outdoor plants. i check with neighbors for old newspaper. i pick up cardboard from local grocery store.