Help, please, I need to winterize azaleas and rhododendrons

Floyd, VA(Zone 6b)

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.


Hurst, TX(Zone 7b)

Are you saying that the azaleas and roses and being planted out of zone? And is the nursery just suggesting that you mulch them? Or are they suggesting not planting them now but in spring instead? If so, can you not put them in the garage?

Under normal conditions, I would keep them outside in mulched pots until the temps go into the low 30s, which triggers them to go into dormancy. Then I would bring them into a garage (heated or not), pool shed, shed and place them on top of something so they do not touch the frozen ground. Then water them once or twice a month (more if the location is heated). I would also mulch the pot to conserve water moisture. Hay can be used as mulch but hay also carries some weeds in it, something that turns off some people. Keep it simple with plain ole acidic mulch (pine bark, pine needles or wood chips) if you have some around. I recommend 4" mulch, except near the trunk where 1" may be fine. Remember to reduce watering in Fall to begin hardening them in preparation for winter. For more information, check out the Azaleas Society Of America's Website at

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