Just Outside the Zone

Scottsville, VA

If I'm looking at a perennial rated Zone 8, but live in Zone 7 - ways are there to help it overwinter and survive? No garage or basement here. If I plant it near the foundation of my tiny home will that shelter it enough? Or is it better to pot it and shove it in my pantry or henhouse? Dark both places. Will a heating cable around the roots help if it overwinters outside?

River Falls, WI

Hi OlWolf,
It shouldn’t take anything too extreme to baby along a plant that is just one zone off. I live in the frigid north of Wisconsin (zone 4), and I have seen things from zone 5 survive just fine here without any extra protection. That said, a little extra protection will go a long ways. So rake a pile of leaves over the plant in the fall, that will probably be enough. Last year I had gladiolus bulbs survive winter because they happened to be along a rabbit fence that captured a lot of fall leaves, those are only supposed to be hardy to zone 7 or 8. If the plant is really precious to you, you could always go a step farther and get one of those styrofoam covers they sell for overwintering roses. I would not suggest digging it up unless it is something with a tubering root like a dahlia.

The things to really be careful with are areas that get really wet in the winter. A lot of perennials actually are as likely to rot during a cold wet spring as to succumb to outright cold. So try to choose a spot that drains well.

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