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Buffer Zone For Potted Plants Before Putting Them Away Indoors

, Admin

Multiple potted and canopy plants with the arrival of the first cold weather gradually migrate from the beloved garden to the premises for wintering. Many gardeners believe that their main job is to remove the plants in time, preventing heat-loving exotics from suffering the first frosts. But it's not just the timing that's important in the process of moving the seedlings into the house, but also keeping all the necessary safety precautions in place. Simply move the plants from the garden indoors is not possible. You need a good buffer zone to make the move comfortable.

Buffer zone for potted plants before putting them away indoors
Container plants before moving indoors

Transitional phase to protect plants

Any change of conditions for canopy plants and those inhabitants of potted gardens which do not belong to the perennials must be made gradually. When plants are taken out into the garden in late spring and early summer, they should first be placed in a shaded, sheltered location to get used to the temperatures and the new regime. Likewise, they should be brought back in the same way. In this respect, garden potted and canopy plants are virtually no different from indoor plants, which can be taken out into the fresh air for the summer. Crops growing in limited soil need more stable growing conditions than those in the open air.

The first thing to keep in mind is the damage that can be done to plants by an abrupt transition to new temperatures, not a smooth change in temperature range. The difference between the conditions in the garden, with a natural variation of day and night temperatures, the impact of dozens of different factors and stable room temperatures is significant. But it is not only the gradual habituation to other temperatures that is associated with the need for an intermediate stage when transferring caddisflies. The need of plants in "buffer zone" is influenced by two more factors:

  1. The ground ball must be dried before the plants get to their winter apartments: if the plants are transferred together with moisture-soaked substrate, they may rot not only their roots, but also the bases of shoots. This is especially true for plants which overwinter in cool conditions.
  2. If you do not provide an intermediate stay in the buffer zone before wintering, but simply bring the plants indoors, wet leaves can be a big risk factor for fungal diseases. Especially if there is rainy weather in the fall. The colder air in the autumn makes the leaves of potted and canopy plants worse for drying out, and if you don't dry them out gradually, you are likely to get more problems with fungal diseases and rotting in combination with wet above-ground parts.
Buffer zone for potted plants before putting them away indoors
Container plants before you bring them indoors. © Michelle Gervais

The risk factor of spreading root rot or fungal disease is not equally relevant for different container plants. Unless the ground lump is dried, crops that are severely pruned for the winter or that shed their foliage completely will be severely affected by excessive moisture. Poor drying of greens is most threatening to evergreens, which retain their leaves for the winter completely, and is virtually harmless to crops that shed them.

It is desirable to gradually accustom plants to both reduced access to fresh air, different humidity, and much scarcer light.

Simple principles of organizing a buffer zone

A buffer zone is any protected from precipitation and strong wind, shaded place near the house or other buildings. Garden stars in portable containers should be under a canopy before finally going to winter. A wide awning, veranda, protected terrace or pergola, a place under a balcony, etc. will provide ideal protection for the plants and allow them to gradually adapt to winter conditions.

Buffer zone for potted plants before putting them away indoors
Hortensia in containers. © airpotgardener

The key parameters of the "buffer zone" are protection from precipitation and wind. But they are not the only ones to think about. For all plants, without exception, it is desirable to stay in an intermediate range of temperatures, average between those that will wait for them indoors and those in which they were in the open air. In the case of cool overwintering, any placement under a canopy can provide such a transition, since temperatures are already dropping gradually in the fall.

If exotic plants are to be overwintered warm, they should be placed in a cool hall, sheltered terrace, veranda or ventilated balcony to help them adapt to the new conditions and ensure average temperatures between garden and house plants.

The length of stay in the buffer zone for pot plants and potted plants should not be less than 3 days. The ideal adaptation time is one week or 10 days under a canopy.

While in the buffer zone you do not water or feed the plants, you do not prune them or do anything else to prepare them for their dormancy period. This can be taken care of just before they are finally transferred to wintering.