I live in Zone 4, and this spring I bought WAY too many plants at a co-op. They have been growing on all summer, and are getting fairly decent sized, but here is the problem. I was planning on using September to plant everything, but I wrecked my shoulder, and my life since then has been a long series of Physical Therapy, Chiropractic and deep tissue massage. I took some vicodin and repotted some of the stuff into larger pots and have a lot left to go. The problem is I am not sure what I can do to help them survive the winter.
I cannot get everything in the ground. I can pot things up because I am upright, but bending over and working is not an option. My garage isn't big enough, and my basement isn't cold enough to keep everything dormant. I was thinking about placing the pots very, very close together and mulching them for all they are worth with straw. Does anyone think this might work, or am I wasting my time? I really want to have as much as possible survive until spring.
What do professional nurseries do up here in the frozen northland? I can't believe they ship everything south or put pots into the ground.
I have mainly hostas, ferns and heucheras, but I also have a number of other things that are at least hardy to this area.
One of the larger landscape nurseries in the area does something similar to what you are thinking about doing- puts all the pots together and dump a bunch of mulch on and around the pots. I don't know about straw - will it stay put?
I have a chainlink dog kennel I was going to put around the pots to keep the straw in, so it should stay where I put it, but I haven't bought the straw yet, so if you have any suggestions on something better for mulch, I am all ears!
I got about 30 hostas potted yesterday - today, I have 12 irises, and about 25-30 heucheras. If I still have any energy I will move on to the rest.
I live in Minnesota too. I've had good luck with planting perreniels in pots and then covering them with mulch or leaves for the winter. I've done this with heucheras & mums. I'll be trying it with my dwarf hostas this winter.
Last year I had a lot of plants that I could not put into the ground.
I have a large depression that I fill with leaves and compost in place there.
So I burried the pots there and everything survived just fine.
This year I am planning on doing the same thing with the oaks that I
started in pots.
If you have larger leaves, would suggest running the lawn mower over them to chop up and prevent ending up with (what I would get) layers of large oak leaves doing a lasagna (sp) like thing on top of the plant crowns. I will be doing what I did last year and more. Was considering a house move- kind of yes/no thing..didn't find anything before the stock market went wanky (pure luck-whew) ANYway..kept daylilies potted laying on their sides to prevent crown rot and put them along side the garage. There they are protected from sun and wind (so no freeze thaw)..this season will see even more there, as the digging,potting continued.
I think that leaves are a Great idea-free and much easier to just let compost itself rather than try to clean up that bright yellow straw that blows all over.
Biggest problem would be keeping them from freeze/thaw, check what is suseptible to crown rot (put on side) , if you have bulbs (Asiatic etc) would enclosed them in screening or some wire stuff..wee beasties love them for snacks.
Wishing you a full recovery and a gentle dormant season...and some help with that gardening.!
Well, I got the irises, a few of the heucheras, the pulmonaria, brunnera and baptisia potted up. I love those cowpots... would have been great had these gone in the ground. But after being wet all summer, well, they are just a mess. And of course, I can't leave them like that. I am hoping the 4" fit in 4" plastic pots without a lot of extra dirt... I am running out! I can't believe we haven't had a freeze yet, and there isn't one in the forecast. Some of the babies didn't do so well in their small pots, so they will be going into the garage (insulated but unheated - rarely goes below freezing) for the winter now that they have a bigger pot to live in.
So daylilies, heucheras on their sides - check. How about any of the others I mentioned?
Pulmonaria would be one to watch..does have crown, but with shallow rooting would also be at risk for spring thaw heave-might be a good one to tuck in. Don't know brunnera. Baptisma..would just make sure that it doesn't end up sitting in pools of spring thaw water. When I moved my mature plant (Never again) , I had a root that measured 5 foot long...I was much younger and stubborn at that time and that plant was Going to move.
It is a prairie plant-and I think would suffer more from too much water..so high up for that one.
We have 80's here today, so cannot work outside (meds)..will have to stay in and do the cleaning that has been neglected this summer. Maybe.
My baptisia is very small still - just sprouted from seed this year. I do have several plants I know I can never move, and I will add this one to the list.
I was thinking about putting a tarp over either the pots before the mulch, between the straw and leaves, or over the mulch to stabilize it... this would keep almost all the snow water out, and as long as the pots aren't dry when I do it, I was hoping that would help prevent excess water in the plants. Any thoughts? Should I actually set the pots in a bed of straw to help with drainage, and forego the tarps altogether?
A big thanks to everyone who is helping me to figure this out, and give me hope that I won't just lose everything.
I would skip the tarps also. Mine are all dark colored, so would "draw" the heat in ..might end up with mold etc.
For the little baptisma..just keep on repotting it in taller and taller pots :)
Your idea sounds like a good one--on top of chopped leaves etc for drainage..anyone want to weigh in on it? I haven't tried it.
I have a chronic problem of not being able to get everything I've accummulated over the summer...planted. This will be my third year of digging a shallow trench for my pots. The trench is in complete shade and protected. I bury the pots, tipped at an angle, and then replace soil around and above them to ground level. Having them tipped prevents snow melt or water from sitting on the surface and causing root rot. Then, after the ground is frozen, I put a huge mound of dry leaves on top. I have not lost a plant yet with this method. Good luck.
Speaking of iris...I'm redoing a bed and have pulled all of the iris. I don't want them in there any more. So far they are just in a big bucket. Do I try to store them like that, or is it best to get them planted somewhere and hope that they don't heave up? Will they survive? Will they flower in Spring?
I have had some just lay around dry in the unheated garage one season and they did stay viable. Last time I just stuck them in the ground and they grew, not blooming ;they hold mean grudges I will do the same this year , as I have a pile of dirt that I won't be using all up this fall --won't get blooms next year..but the mice and chipmunks are moving into the garage condo set-up and I don't want to leave any bulbs in there. I have been risking just leaving the lily bulbs in there for a couple of weeks , waiting to be potted up and stored under hardware cloth. They really like to eat my Asiatics. I am just really low on energy, so will be doing a lot of minimal care.
Would let the iris dry a bit if you are not going to plant. You run risk of rot if kept warm and moist..and that is a stinky thing...
Just a suggestion. When overwintering in pots, size counts. Instead of putting small plants in individual containers combine them into a larger pot. Then bury the larger pot in leaves or in the ground. Your survival rate will be higher. If combining different varieties together be sure and mark each plant separately. If everything in the pot is the same then just use one marker and indicate number of plants. I routinely do this every year with hostas, heucheras, daylilies, geraniums, iris,etc.