Ruthannn: bringing brugs in question

tommysmommy(Colorado)September 22, 2010

Ruthann, I've been reviewing your tutorial on bringing in brugs and I've seen how huge and wonderful your inground planted brugs get up there in Canada. (I'm in Colorado with 4 months guaranteed summer.) There has been discussion of how to "guarantee" earlier blooms, such as when cutting back for the winter, cut back above a "Y". However your method suggests cutting back to a very short stem, no "Y", before putting plants into dormancy. And even the root balls have been trimmed severely. So can you explain why your method produces such great growth in such a short season?

Thanks Ruthann!!


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ruth_ann(Z5 Ont.Can.)

I think mostly it has to do with my soil Diane. I have spent years amending it, even up to last summer all the neighbour's summer lawn clippings and fall leaves were added to the top of the soil and every year I add generous quantities of mushroom compost to the planting holes. However, I do leave my variegated and doubles standing to just their first Y, those two cultivars are slower growing so need that Y in order to get their blooms started earlier.
I think the cutting way back like I do/did was a space saving effort, I used to cram 50 Brugs plus Fuchsia,Canna tubers, 5 vine plants etc in a 10X10 structure so space was at a premium. I also found that when the plants sent up new growth, they seemed to make their new 'Y's at a much lower height than their initial ones so that made a big difference as well. The hardest part was making myself snap off any new growth on them until March, then I would leave it to grow and start opening the winter house up to more light so that growth wouldn't be 'wimpy'. Then in April, I feel that the watering with Transplant fertilizer wakes the roots up and to start developing so they are ready to get growing out into the soil as soon as they are planted out.
I must say though, this method is not the best one for the versicolour, they do like it warmer than 50-55F but I hate house plants so I just have to watch them closely down in their winter house and have them the closest to the heaters.

This year I am re-homing all my big older Brugs and only keeping 7 that I started as cuttings last fall. I am not running the winter house any longer, power is getting expensive so the Brugs are coming into the basement. DH will have to carry them up and down so I have to think about their sizes and weights more now.
When you live is an area of such a short growing season and short time you can have them outdoors, you really have to work out what works best for you. I don't believe my method would work well for Brugs always potted, only for when they are planted in the ground over the growing season.
It took a few years but by trial and error I found the method that worked best for me.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 8:28AM
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Thanks Ruthann! Lots of good info/explanation. I don't know how many of these I can really overwinter, dormant or growing (I have lots of houseplants, they keep my spirits up when the world is white and dead outside!) but I'm going to experiment this year.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 9:25AM
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green_thumb_guy(Z5 Ont)

You would be surprised how many brugs you can fit into a small space. I made a little"room" using particle board. to keep my cats from playing in my brugs over the winter.

I end up placing my largest rootballs in first and slipping smaller(?) ones in between.

Any despite no light, they want to grow.

The only issue comes when you give them a drink over the winter. I have to remember to increase the air flow afterwards or I can get mushing stems.


    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 10:52AM
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That's cool! I wish I had the space to do something like that. Hmm, may have to clean out some old junk closets...

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 11:44AM
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Thanks Ruthann for all that valuable information. I understand now what exactly to do for my brugs. Thanks so much. Glad

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 7:44PM
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Green Thumb...your storing method is really nice. I usually
tie mine up like that also. It makes a lot more space that way. Very nice plants!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 7:48PM
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keriann_lakegeneva(5B WI/IL border)

Thank you for the great thread. One question.... What temp do you keep them at in storage?



    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 10:06AM
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I want Ruth Ann's soil. lol I also usually cut my brugs back to about 10" because of space issues but have found that the ones that have been left like GTG's do bloom much earlier. Unfortunately space is an issue, even with my dormant plants. Except for cuttings I let all my brugs go dormant including variegated, culebra, etc. Like Ruth Ann I can't stand having plants in my house. That does sound odd for a plant lover but I want them outside or in one of the greenhouses year round. I have a spare room that I set up with HID lights over the winter when necessary but really can't stand it. If I only had brugs to deal with it wouldn't be an issue but I have hundreds of plants that need winter protection and most can't be forced into dormancy : (

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 10:17AM
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green_thumb_guy(Z5 Ont)

I'm a fan of putting the brugs to sleep (obviously) no pests to deal with and it's a little break. I have another room with lots of fluorescent lights where I have some plants to play with; like cuttings.

As Ruth Ann stated, our hydro costs are going up.

I don't heat my greenhouse - it sits empty for the winter.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 4:53PM
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green_thumb_guy(Z5 Ont)


my basement sits around 60 - 70F - guessing.

I don't worry about the temp; because I know it doesn't get too cold. I wouldn't keep them below 50F over the winter; but that's me. Severe weather may cause it to drop more and some varieties will be very unhappy.

If you keep them warm, just check them more frequently to make sure they don't dry out too much.


    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 4:58PM
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keriann_lakegeneva(5B WI/IL border)

Thank you green thumb!

That is what my basement is now, woo hoo, no modifications!

Enjoy the fall colors : )


    Bookmark   September 27, 2010 at 10:07AM
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ruth_ann(Z5 Ont.Can.)

My last flush of the season is now going on, I have sat out the last couple of nights just to inhale deeply while wearing a sweater and a throw over my legs. With it being cooler out, they aren't quite as fragrant as long in the evenings so have to take advantage of this last hurrah! Every single one has some stage of bloom on them, not as many as normal on a couple of the bigger ones as we had big winds a few days ago the ripped a lot of unopened blooms of but the branches remained in tact.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2010 at 12:58PM
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cody_mi(z5 MI)

at what point do you bring them in? what should the outside temps be? mine are just now starting to set buds now thats it's 40 degrees at night.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2010 at 8:40PM
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green_thumb_guy(Z5 Ont)

I have to admit that in the past, I have always pushed my luck in keeping my brugs out longer than I should have. It will depend on the region that you live.

The odd cold night shouldn't be a problem for most varieties but, I have a couple that show a reaction to the cold temps on their trunks. I can only guess that the cold stress could contribute to some susceptibility to fungal diseases.

But don't let me panic you. If your buds are still quite small, and your forecast indicates that it is only going to get cooler - perhaps it's best to bring it in. Also consider what your schedule is going to be like.

Risk of frost is probably the biggest governing factor.

One year, i got hit really hard and my brugs melted quite a bit. They did recover

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 8:09AM
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ruth_ann(Z5 Ont.Can.)

The green foliage and stems can not take a frost, certainly not a good one. If you wish to see buds bloom and you get early frosts, move them in for the night if potted or cover them with cloth, NOT just plastics as plastic does not insulate, and place a light at their base under the protection. (Christmas light strings or a 40 watt bulb in a lamp is plenty)The small amount of heat from the lights is enough to ward off the frost damage.
Here in my Zone 5-6 I take chances because I prune mine back so far that it matters not if the newest most tender growth gets damaged if I take a risk.

I usually wait until the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend ( that is Oct 9-11 this year to bring mine in but if the night time lows are above 36-38, I will bring them in at a slower pace after those dates.
One year I got caught, I nearly had to cut back to the soil line as the outside bark even on the woody plants got damaged and sloughed off a couple of weeks later on some of them and those I did cut back to the soil line ( the roots were fine). The roots will not stand as long a freeze in pots as they would in the ground just because the get the temperature from the surface of the pots doing them in.
Thee are picks from the time I waited too twice to enlarge image)

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 9:47AM
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cody_mi(z5 MI)

it's supposed to be in the forties at night for the next week or so except for saturday which is supposed to drop to 35. it was in the higher 30's a few days ago and they're still fine. i'll cover them saturday night and probably bring them in in about two weeks.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 11:00AM
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This is a very helpful thread! Could anyone tell me what is the best light requirement while dormant. I have 2 options in bringing inside, one would be an unheated basement, pretty dark except a few small basement windows, and one would be an unheated room in the house with north facing windows.
would dormancy be better darker or with a little more light?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 12:54PM
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green_thumb_guy(Z5 Ont)

As You can see form my pics of the little room I made - they are in complete darkness. I do have another spot where they get light from an aquarium. These ones tend to leaf out. It really is your choice. I do find that if they leaf out a bit - you can tell when they need a drink because the leaves wilt. Not saying this is the best method -just an observation.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 1:25PM
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ruth_ann(Z5 Ont.Can.)

Only ambient light gets into the winter house my Brugs stayed in at 50, the walls and ceiling were all insulated with pink insulation but it still was pretty bright, too bright for my liking.
( I did cover that small opening before bringing the Brugs in)

It could be totally dark and cause no issues as long as you are really, really careful to not give too much water and rot the roots.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 5:05PM
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Thanks Green thumb guy and Ruth ann! I will probably try the basement then. It's so great to learn from others experience!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 11:37AM
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green_thumb_guy(Z5 Ont)

If I had the choice, I'd prefer Ruth Ann's greenhouse method - if electricity wasn't going up in price.

She's able to get an earlier start

But i make due with the basement


    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 6:10PM
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