Overwintering potted plantsIf you enjoy the summer outdoors and spend the cold winter in front of a warming log fire, you are very similar to your potted plants.
Exactly like you, the exotic plants from your balcony or terrace prefer to spend the winter in the warm. Even before the first frost comes, you should bring your plants into their winter quarters. This can be the conservatory, the basement or even a frost-protected garden shed.
The requirements of winter quarters vary from plant to plant and should always be considered. Only a plant overwintered in the right way for its species will have enough power to be able to quickly form new flowers in the coming spring.
Overwintering potted plants outside
Not all potted plants need to be carried to the basement though; potted plants such as bamboo, boxwood and laurel can overwinter outdoors with a little effort. Here you should protect delicate roots from the cold. It is best to place the pot on a 5 cm thick polystyrene plate, which protects the plant against rising cold from the ground. The pot itself can be wrapped with jute bags, thick fleece or even bubble wrap for effective insulation against the cold air.
In addition to the protective measures above, roses should also have a collar of a few centimetres of piled up soil. This also protects the most sensitive part, the grafting point, from frost.
The protected plants should nevertheless be supplied with water at regular intervals. Root balls should never dry out.
Overwintering in basements and conservatories
What works for some plants results in certain death for others, such as the banana tree. Most exotic potted plants should absolutely be overwintered inside the house. Conservatories are certainly the best place for this. If you do not have one, you should avoid the basement, the garage or the stairwell. In any case, it is important to keep an eye on the temperature. Temperatures below freezing are very quickly fatal for plants, even in the garage.
Keep an eye on the temperature
The optimum overwintering temperature is between 5°C and 10°C. In this temperature range, the metabolism of the plant is kept to a minimum. As soon as it is warmer in winter quarters, the plant begins its growth, but this will end in etiolation of shoots due to the lack of light. Etoliation is the term for long, thin shoots that show the plant's desperate search for light. The formation of these shoots means the plant uses unnecessary energy.
As only very few potted plants lose their leaves over the winter months, they need sunlight even in the cold season. A spot close to the window is usually sufficient for this. Plants that shed their leaves in winter, such as the fuchsia, can also be overwintered in complete darkness. But they still have to be watered - not excessively, but the root balls need to be protected from dehydration.
Care is still necessary
By regularly removing dead plant parts and fallen leaves, you prevent possible fungal attacks. Apart from that, only plants that are absolutely free of pests should be together. Infected plants or plants that had to deal with pests shortly before overwintering, should initially be kept alone and treated accordingly. Only after the pests have been fought can the plant be brought back to the others.
If you do not have the space or equipment to transport your plants, a professional can help. Many garden centres use the free space in their greenhouses during the cold season for exactly this. With prices per square meter between 50 and 100 euros each winter, in addition to watering, further care such as fertilising is usually included. Large plants such as palm trees can also be picked up by truck.