The 6 Components Of Proper Preparation Of Garden Caddies For Winter

Potato plants are often called one of the most problematic categories of garden plants. Growing giants in large containers is really not a pleasure for everyone. And the reason is banal: such plants require care and time, in summer - daily watering. And to provide such care can not every gardener. And one of the most difficult components in the cultivation of any caddy plants, of course, is the need to prepare them for winter. Regardless of the cold tolerance and endurance of specific crops, it is called the main key to the health and beauty of plants. The thoughtful approach to such preparation is the most reliable guarantee that you will enjoy the beauty of exotic plants next year as well. © frustratedgardener

Pot plants should come to the forefront of the list of garden chores as soon as the weather forecast for the coming weeks shows near-zero temperatures. And delaying the process of preparing for winter by waiting for the freezing temperatures themselves is not a good idea. Many of the summer garden caddisflies, whether typical garden crops, greenhouses, or room assortments, do not tolerate procrastination. Even if they are so cold-resistant that they could "last" and extend the gardening season for weeks on end, you have to heat containers and sometimes crowns of plants.

Of course, the longer you can leave plants out in the fresh air, the better they harden, the less risk that pests will remain on the leaves. But no one guarantees you that such hardening experiments will not result in serious injury to the plants themselves. Preparation of caddisflies in warm southern regions is actually reduced only to protection from the cold. But in the middle zone the harsh climate requires much more serious measures.

There are two main principles of winter preparation of all perennial plants - timeliness and absence of hurry. And they do not contradict each other. It is not enough to bring plants inside in time. They need to be prepared gradually and gently for the new, hardest period of the year. Both the time of preparation for winter and the observance of all components of this process are extremely important for the health of plants, not just their aesthetic characteristics or ability to flower, but the very possibility to survive the winter depend on them.

The preparation of garden tubers for the winter season can be divided into 6 main components:

  1. The right time to bring in tubers plants from the garden.
  2. Warming for those plants that will remain in the garden or winter outdoors for the time being.
  3. Trimming the caddy plants and sanitizing them.
  4. Drying the groundball and placing the plant in a buffer zone.
  5. Selection of conditions and place for wintering for each plant.
  6. Setting up of plants for winter treatment.

Let's get to know nuances of each of these "blocks" of preparation of annual plants for winter more close.

The 6 components of proper preparation of garden caddies for winter
Potted plants in garden. © fishguardgarden

1. Proper timing

The timing of the caddy plants is absolutely impossible to determine with certainty. In each particular year the peculiarities of weather change the situation sometimes dramatically. In warm autumn it is possible to postpone the warming, but sometimes the first plants must be taken away already in the third decade of August. And in order not to be mistaken with dates it is important to follow the weather and forecasts: even the hypothetical threat must be taken into account.

The easiest way to determine the plants which can be harvested in no hurry. All crops that can overwinter in the open ground in your climate will survive a cold spell perfectly, even in tubs. These include frost-resistant bulbs with perennials (such as pieris and tulips), fan maples, yews with magnolias, and other conifers, and boxwoods, ivy, and bamboos. Of course, the limited amount of soil requires additional protection, sheltering, wrapping, but such plants are not afraid of the first frosts and you can leave them in the garden until the temperature really drops to the lower limit for them. In the middle belt, even the most hardy caddisflies are almost never left outdoors to winter (this applies to pines, spruces and other typical "our" plants as well). But in milder winters, you can simply limit it to insulation. But even plants which are not frost-resistant but cold-resistant enough are better left in gardens longer to harden them by insulating containers in the same way as in the south.

But while there are not many cold-resistant crops, the classic cauliflowers, which belong to the southern, heat-loving, exotic crops, dominate almost any collection. And picking the right time for them to be harvested for the winter is much more difficult.

First, let's talk about the classics. Rosemary, laurel, oleander, laurel, olives are best carried as soon as the first signs of frost appear on the leaves. They can withstand sub-zero temperatures and are considered the most resistant of exotics.

Tropical indoor plants, on the contrary, are taken inside first, without waiting for the arrival of the cold. Fuchsias, abutilons, ficuses, dracenas, etc. indoor pets should be taken inside as soon as the first forecast for nighttime temperatures of 5-7 degrees appears. Decreases below 10 degrees can be fatal for them.

Succulents, cacti and citrus, as well as Mediterranean lianas such as bougainvillea can tolerate even periods when the temperature is stable at 3-5 degrees at night. But you still need to remove them before frosts.

You should also take into account that the time of bringing them into the warmth does not coincide with the time of the beginning of preparation for winter. To send plants indoors, you need to start preparing in advance, keeping an eye on the forecasts and preparing crops little by little. Both wrapping materials and transport carts should be on hand, and plants should already be inspected and standing in a protected location. Then at the first cold snap, you can react quickly and get them in right away.

The 6 components of proper preparation of garden caddies for winter
Potted Herb Garden. © Dorling Kindersle

2. Warming and wrapping

For cold-resistant pot plants, warming plays the role of a compensating factor: unlike plants growing in garden soil, pot plants are in containers with closed soil of limited volume, and therefore freeze much harder, and the cold is more perceptible to them. Therefore, while other plants are being prepared for transport and removed from the garden, cold-resistant plants are being wrapped and given a chance to stay outdoors for longer.

Factually, wrapping is simply wrapping pots with materials that can create a heat insulating layer around the containers, which will not let the frost get to the ground. But you should not forget one more important nuance: while shrubs and trees need only insulation, herbaceous perennials, and even more so - representatives of the family of tuberous and bulbous giants, also need protection from dampness.

Wrapping perennials is the most difficult. The plant is literally packed in several layers of covering materials, creating an air-dry insulation layer. For herbaceous plants and bulbs wrapping usually consists of the following steps

  1. Select the second - external - container of larger size, in which you can put a container with the plant itself. Large tubs, baskets, and old buckets or basins can serve in this capacity. But for them to fulfill their function, such not too warm structures should be lined inside with a porous material, such as coconut mats or mats.
  2. In the outer container put a support for the plant, which will not let it contact with the bottom - a tray, a plate, bricks etc.
  3. The plant is placed on the support.
  4. Fill free space between walls with dry sawdust or leaves, creating warming layer.
  5. Prepare in advance enough stock of breathable material for final wrapping that is created only with the arrival of stable night frosts - spunbond, lutrasil, fleece. Evergreen species are also protected from burning with the help of such a "film".

Shrubs and tree species are easier to cover and there are much more variants of their covering:

  • plants can be put in a box, a tub or a large container, laying between the walls of containers moss or dry leaves;
  • very effective and from the icy wind and from the winter sun wrapping containers with straw or reed mats;
  • pots can always be wrapped with warm jute, sacking, an old patchwork blanket, a combination of warm fabric and nonwoven material, simple bubble wrap.

The main thing is to provide insulation from the soil or the surface of the path and site by putting the plant on a stand, and to insulate the container, protect it from the wind.

Some cadots will need shelter not only the rhizome in the container, but also the crown. Evergreens, especially conifers, are very afraid of sunburn, which is scary not only in the midst but also on the eve of winter. Even if you take them away later anyway, when placed under the drying rays of the sun, it is better to take extra measures. Such cover should be lightweight - of any nonwoven material or even fleece.

The 6 components of proper preparation of garden caddies for winter
Wrapping potted plants with burlap

3. Pruning and cleaning of pot plants

The habit of cleaning pot plants before bringing them into warmth - removing dry shoots, forming pruning, removing leaves - is not appropriate for all plants. For crops that are already entering the dormant stage, pruning is a serious traumatic factor and increases the risk of disease and pest infestation. It is especially dangerous to cut dramatically in preparation for winter.

In order to avoid an unfortunate blunder and to avoid destroying all work in one fell swoop of the garden shears, make it a rule to only cut what really needs to be cut. This list of things includes, of course, damaged or diseased shoots, dry branches, thickening shoots and huge bunches of vines or spreading plants which take up too much space. This does not apply to palms: Even leaves that have withered away should be left behind. Only use shaping, rejuvenating or blooming stimulants on plants which need to be pruned in the autumn. For example, cut out a couple of the oldest branches on oleander. But it is always better to form at the beginning of the active season, when plants are ready to be taken back to the garden and are just starting to grow.

But measures to prepare plants for winter are not limited to pruning (or lack of it). Plants should be carefully inspected at least a week before they are supposed to be moved to warmth. At the slightest sign of disease or pest infestation, you need to take control measures immediately and in no case put the infected crop in the same place with the others. Inspection of the underside of the leaves and shoots will prevent infection of the entire collection of plants wintering in similar conditions. In addition to monitoring, obligatory sanitary measures include other measures:

  1. From the surface of the substrate you must carefully collect all debris and remove dry leaves and shoots from the plant itself.
  2. See trays and the outside of containers and wash them as thoroughly as possible: soil residues and deposits can be a source of bacteria.

Do not forget about corrective care. Plants should be transferred in advance to more sparing watering, gradually increasing the time between these procedures and reducing the moisture of the earth's rump. During this period, overwatering is very dangerous. But it is possible to transfer the caddisflies to a dry mode only just before they are moved into the warm, buffer zone, and it can be done only for plants wintering in the cold. Feeding must be stopped several weeks, if not a month, before moving them indoors.

The 6 components of proper preparation of garden caddies for winter
Hortensia grown in pots. © Lynn Coulter

4. Intermediate

Any plant, even if moved from a cold garden to a cold basement, cannot simply be put on a cart and moved to a new location when frost arrives. They need to be gradually adapted - put away in advance in an intermediate temperature, protected from precipitation and wind, where the plant can finally dry out (wet leaves or shoots are one of the most weighty risk factors for potted plants in wintering), where you can finally dry out the ground lump and establish a "winter" regime of scarce watering. The buffer zone will give another chance to notice problems on the plant, reduce the stress factor and allow a gentle transition to a new regime.

There is no specific time frame for staying in the intermediate zone. A couple of days or a week may well be a longer period, weather permitting. But plants should only be brought indoors after this intermediate soaking in a protected area.

5. Premises for wintering

The main task in selecting a place for wintering is to create conditions that are not present in the garden, i.e. protection from frost. The room in which caddisflies winter must be frost-free. And this is its main parameter. But how cold or warm it should be, whether the plants need light or you can put them in complete darkness - the question is different.

The sure rule of thumb for selecting wintering conditions for caddisflies is that cold-resistant crops, which are taken out later, also need as cool a wintering as possible. A temperature of 3 to 5 degrees is ideal for them. Accordingly, southern exotics, capricious beauties and those cultures that are afraid not of frosts, but of serious cold, winter in very different conditions - in much higher temperatures (they do not always need room conditions, but temperatures around 10-15 degrees are considered for them the lower limit). Most often such plants are taken either to the winter garden or to the living quarters (trying to choose the coolest rooms in the house). All Mediterranean plants belong to such lovers of relative coolness. But there are also plants that like to winter in temperatures from 18 to 24 degrees - abutilon, hibiscus, banana. In order not to make a mistake about the temperature, write the names of the plants on the cards and then sort them into groups according to the required temperature.

It is very simple with lighting: If a plant keeps its leaves, then it needs light and the brighter the room, the better. Only deciduous shrubs and woody shrubs overwinter in the dark. And there's another nuance: the higher the temperature, the greater the need for light. A bright location allows you to keep the plant in warmer conditions and when a cool wintering is simply impossible to arrange.

Favorite place for wintering of caddisflies, which most gardeners choose - the garage. But it is not the only option at all. Radiators can overwinter in stairwells, winter gardens, greenhouses, utility blocks, greenhouses and greenhouses, even in living rooms, verandas, halls, insulated balconies or loggias.

Selecting a place should also include bringing it in order. Before moving the plants should be cleaned, remove dust, accumulation of dirt, ventilate the room. Do not put plants in a messy location: they are already difficult to move and transport, and with unnecessary obstacles to cope with the task of bringing them in and taking them back out will be even more difficult. Also think about rodent protection measures, especially if plants are stored in the same place as supplies or planting material.

The 6 components of proper preparation of garden caddies for winter
Potted plants in the garden. © Party Decor

Maintaining cleanliness, order, and hygiene is a major goal throughout the plant dormancy period. Even with the most careful approach to pruning and sanitation measures taken, dry leaves will still appear, accumulating on the substrate, in the crown or even on the floor. And they must be removed immediately, picking them up quickly. It's worth making a habit of checking caddisflies for overwintering as often as stored crops or dug up bulbs. Monitoring is essential so that the first signs of pests or diseases can be spotted immediately. When inspecting leafy crops, carefully check the twigs, and the undersides and petioles of foliage-preserving crops. Be sure to ventilate rooms during inspections: access to fresh air is the best prevention and a great way to keep cool temperatures.

Particular care should be taken when watering as well. Even when wintering in the warmth of indoor caddies, which combine a gardening career with a winter show in the interior, watering should be done carefully and gently, focusing on the humidity of the substrate needed by the plants, rather than on a specific frequency of procedures. For any and all caddisflies that have spent the summer in the garden, humidity should be reduced and over-watering avoided. Cold-wintering plants are watered literally to maintain viability, with a minimal amount of water. Feeding is not carried out for garden caddisflies.

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